Friday, May 22, 2009

How We Talk and What We Say

I love the versatility of words. I love playing with expected meanings and interpretations. Usually I play with them on paper because I don't think too quick on my feet in that regard. With the exception of making sexual innuendo, but I usually reserve that for my Hubby since not every appreciates good sexual innuendo.

One thing that is interesting to talk about is how I finished high school. There is great differences in connotation if I say that I dropped out versus if I say that I finished early. There's even a difference if I simple state that I finished early or if I say that I took my GED. The end results were the same-- I left a situation that bored the stuffing out of me and went on to be a successful college student and, if I may be so bold as to even say I'm a good teacher.

Of course what I choose to say also reflects something on me. I admit that in settings where it's not expected, I do like the shock value of telling people that the reasonably articulate, published author beside them dropped out of high school. Heh.

This sort of thing plays out in writing, as well. Not only do I look at what the character did, including motivation, but how do they talk about it? Bo is the best for pure ambiguity. She doesn't reveal much of anything to anyone (except maybe Axel) and the things she does say can often be taken to mean something else.

But other characters are fun to explore too. I like taking on different personas (in a miniature form) as I write characters and pick their words. From the self-righteous woman who very openly condemns the choices of others to the metrosexual guy who finds away to talk about himself in every sentences.

Now, the only problem is that I spend a dreadful lot of time on fairly minor characters. These characters show up for a conversation, maybe a second round later, but they're only a passing part of the story as Bo conducts her investigation. But yet, I'll work out the most trivial details related to their personality and choices. Down to the coffee ordered... and I don't even DRINK coffee. I prefer my caffeine in the form of Diet Pepsi.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

And that is why we write, right? At least partially, anyway.

I love words, and love playing with/manipulating them...I think most writers probably do.

About that high school thing - I was home-schooled, so when people ask if I have a diploma, my answer is "no". Which gets plenty of strange looks if they already know I have a college degree. :-)

I pay pretty careful attention to minor character word choices too. Maybe it's even more important for them, since they have such a short amount of time to reveal their personality to the reader before they're gone again.