Presidents Don’t All Sound Alike and Neither Should Your Characters – Writing Tip Wednesday

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and this week, I’m actually going to give a little writing tip. I know!

We all pause for a moment of stunned silence.

Have you ever read a story and every line of dialogue for every character sounds exactly the same no matter what the characters’ backgrounds are?

Like this:

“I love you a lot,” Character #1 said. “A wicked amount.”

“You’re an awesome lady,” Character #2 said.

“You are the wicked awesomest lady ever,” Character #1 said.

“Will you two awesome ladies please move along? I’m in a wicked hurry?” called out Police Officer #1. “No offense.”

Random pretend dialogue from a bad book that I just made up in my head

See what I mean?


So there’s a reason that flat feeling is happening. There’s a reason that all the characters sound the same when those characters aren’t the same in the writer’s head. The reason is because the author isn’t thinking about words.

Someone once said (maybe Rita Mae Brown?) that “Language is the road map of culture. It tells you where a people are from and where they are going.”

For every word we write (or speak) there are connections we have in our brains. We make associations with each word and those associations are formed by our own lives, our cultures, our media consumption. Everything. They are keys to who we are, what we do, what we’ve done, where we’re from, what we’ve been exposed to and how we think.

Don’t be afraid to play around with individual words and think about how substituting one similar word for another really makes a difference.

Let me tell you a tale vs. Let me tell you a story.

I find her account truthful vs. I find her account veracious.

or

The woman is honest vs. The lady is honest.

I have no citation for this because I’m making it up again.

Don’t be afraid to play around with words, to tweak them – especially in your dialogue. Our differences in background and thought is often truly evident in our speech patterns and word choices. People aren’t the same in real life. They don’t talk the same in real life. We should try to make sure that we don’t seem the same in our stories.

Here’s an example Of PEople’s differences in speech patterns and word choice:

Think about past and current presidents and this difference in language is even more obvious. Presidents are all similar in that they are politicians who have attained a great amount of power, English is their first language, all are male, but even so… their speech patterns are profoundly different.

I’ve used the most current tweets (as of this writing) to show the difference in word choice and sentence structure and communication style of four of the last five presidents.

Congratulations to a truly great football team, the Clemson Tigers, on an incredible win last night against a powerful Alabama team. A big win also for the Great State of South Carolina. Look forward to seeing the team, and their brilliant coach, for the second time at the W.H.

A president

In 2018 people stepped up and showed up like never before. Keep it up in 2019. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’ll be right there with you. Happy New Year, everybody!

Another president

.@SenatorCollins — political courage and class. I salute my wonderful friend and her principled leadership.

Yet another president

Senator John Culver was a smart, principled, progressive, and tough public servant who represented his constituents with honor for 16 years. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the people of Iowa.

Our final president example

I think it’s pretty easy to pick out President Clinton and Trump and Obama, not just because of what they’re talking about, but because of their word choices and sentence structure.

So, think about your stories, your life and the people you communicate with. That’s my writing tip – word choice is telling. Make sure that everyone doesn’t sound the same. And if you aren’t a writer, this applies in your own life to – sound the way you want to sound.

A Really Cool Blog Post (not by me) that you should check out.

One of my friends/acquaintances, Carla Tanguay, has a really great blog post about how to use music for self care. It’s right here. You should check it out.

Carla is a “nationally board-certified music therapist with over 15 years of experience in clinical music therapy and healthcare management. She holds a Master’s degree in music therapy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and has trained over 30 music therapy interns.”

But she’s also a great, clear writer and one of the kindest smart people that I know.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

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WRITING BARN

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