In continuing with the dialogue theme, I’ll be focusing this post on vernacular and purpose when it comes to creating a unique character within your real or fictional world.
While voice and personality set the foundation for a character, it’s the use of vernacular and purpose that can set one character apart from another. Using these two techniques set the blueprint for their dialogue. Like voice and personality, these two work in tangent to a build a character of their language and outlook, especially when there are multiple characters involved.
Using vernacular can influence the dialogue of character(s). Whether a Southern American, German transplant or U.K. diplomat, vernacular is something as a writer you might want to think of when trying to create a multi-cultural cast. But vernacular can be a tricky beast as you don’t want the dialogue to be stiff, forced or even worse stereotypical. Take my pilot for a spec script as an example. I took a Southern American girl and dropped her in our neighbor of the North, Canada. It features a cast of teenagers from various ethnic backgrounds so my duty as a writer is to mix some Southern terms from my main character while injecting some Canadian phrases in a natural manner. For me, I use vernacular sparingly as not to create caricatures rather than characters. That’s a little tip from me to you.
Another tip on vernacular is to make sure to examine some terminology through books and websites specializing in certain cultures and nationalities along with consulting people of those backgrounds for more authenticity.
Vernacular is important, but finding purpose in a character’s words is pivotal in displaying a character’s personality. There has to be meaning and intent when creating lines of dialogue or the words will fall flat. Every line in every scene needs to move the plot in some way, but if it doesn’t, a pen or the backspace button is your best friend. Always think about what the character’s mission is in that moment when writing dialogue.
Another trick is keeping your character’s personality and background in mind when using these techniques.
In reading this post, hopefully, you will be able to present your character(s) in a whole new light. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.
Come back next week to read about building a world for your characters through scenes and actions.