Monday, June 13, 2011

Out of the mouth of babes....

I have this little daughter, she is small and very funny. For instance, straight after finishing a bedtime story recently, she insisted on a recap. Yes, a five year old asking for a recap. I thought that was odd too, but apparently it's something her teacher does at school. Or more to the point, a word her teacher uses a lot at school.

But it was when I noticed that this same five year old had developed a tendency to use the phrase 'I have a tendency to [insert habitual activity of five year old girl here]' that I realised what I had... I have my very own personal catchphrase detector!

Being a writer, I occasionally have need of useful ways to tell my characters apart in those lengthy sections of dialogue; things such as patterns of speech, favourite subjects, and, yes, their favourite words and phrases. Writers are often told to listen to conversations on buses and such to pick up these sorts of things, but now I can just send my daughter off to do it for me, and I only have to listen for the unexpected words and phrases that she starts coming out with. (I will have to bear in mind, of course, that she is an annoyingly smart child. The sort who will baffle nursery staff by using the word 'foliage' perfectly correctly.)

Are there any more inventive (ie lazy) ways of creating individual speech patterns for characters?

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