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Um, so I was thinking, well, you know, that I might try to, uuuh, write a post the way you—that is, the way we, as a people, y'know, talk.
Every writer has probably considered this at some point. For realistic-sounding dialogue, why not use dialogue taken directly from real life? And then they listen to how real people talk.
Our conversations are full of crutch words and verbal tics, those uhs and ums and y'knows we say without realizing it.1 We stutter, we stop, we interrupt each other. We change what we're saying multiple times before completing a thought. We complete each others' thoughts, or move on without completing them. Basically, it's like we're all talking in Mamet speak.
This works in real life because we learn to subconsciously ignore all these little tics, and read into what people are saying. When reading, however, our brains don't work the same way. We see every word. And if we actually have to, um, read, like, every word, it, well, it gets tougher to—it gets a bit stilted.
Dialogue and narrative should flow, not feel like a case of literary hiccups. It's fine to use a touch here and there, perhaps an um of consideration or an occasional y'know from one character. But a little can go a long way, so don't overdo it.2
Realism is good. But for good realistic dialogue, fake it.
1 Once, while listening to a vendor give a presentation, I noticed his inadvertent overuse of "y'know," so I started counting. Before a minute had passed, he'd hit 20. No one else in the room noticed this tic at all.
2 This goes for regional dialects and accents, too. And adverbs. And exposition. And sentences that begin with conjunctions.
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, hosted by Jen Daiker and seven others. Go check out the other participants!