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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Type Emotional Dialogue

In a therapy session, I never talk in just one way to clients. Think of how monotonous that would be. And people never respond in just one way.

Why should writing be any different?

I'm not talking about your "voice"--the part of your personality that seeps onto the page. I'm talking about the actual way you type your words, especially your dialogue.

I've been collecting various writing techniques that can convey certain emotions by showing with the actual words. Description is unnecessary for how the character feels, because the words are displayed on the page so creatively that it's a no-brainer for the reader.

Here's two types of examples, using sentence structure change, to convey an (emotion):

1a. "Pleasedontbedeadpleasedontbedeadpleasedontbedead." (dread, fear)

1b.  Hesgoingtoaskmeouthesgoingtoaskmeouthesgoingtoaskmeout! (anticipation, joy)

2a. "Stop. Following. Me." (frustration, exasperation)

2b. "Read. My. Lips." (impatience)

2c. "Get. (separated paragraphs implies more intense frustration/anger)

Here's three examples of altering word spacing/adding a word:

3a. "I feel like I'm f l o a t i n g..." (detachment, confusion)

3b. Crrrraaaaaaaap. (anxiety, disappointment)

3c. "Febru-frickin'-ary can't be over soon enough." (bitterness, bored, irritation)

And finally, a few examples of changing accepted punctuation/grammar rules:

4. "Who cares." (resignation)

5. "You're pretty arrogant, aren't you." (amusement, condescension)

6. "Where you at?" (exasperation/curiosity, via a subculture colloquialism)

Emotion can pour through the structuring of your words on the page. You just have to give it a little thought.

Let's Analyze

What other examples can you think of? Leave them in the comments section!


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Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

Great examples, Jeannie! And you are so right. In the real world, we don't talk in the exact same manner all the time. It varies with our emotions. Thank you for the illustrations.

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.