I keep a recorder running all day long. Records everything I say to anyone, everything they say to me, and picks up conversations of whoever is around (such as when shopping, etc.)
I take those and have a speech to text program type it up for me.
Then I read it and pay attention to how conversations flow.
I started doing this back in the 1990s.
You know what I noticed?*
For example, you know a person is from the Northdam Mill District of Biddeford, when joyfully greet you thusly:
"Hey! Yo bro! Fuck you ya damned bleeding bastard! How ya fucking, ya bastard out of damned fucking hell, ain't see ya fucking cock sucking hyde in like fucking forever, man. Damn. I'm mean bloody, just damn fucking forever! Where the fuck have ya been all these years, ya mother fucking cunt sucker? We gotta get together and fuck so ass again. Hey, it's been great seeing yar fucking shit around these parts. Stop by again. Don't be such a cock sucker."
"Hey! Yo bro! Good to see you! How ya doing, ain't seen you all week. Where were you last week?We gotta get together and hang out at Homer's Bar. Hey, it's been great seeing you. Stop by again. Don't stay away so long."
I don't think any one in Biddeford knows that the word fuck is the French word that means "to have sex". In Biddeford "get fucked" means "get drunk" while "fucking forever" means "last week" and "mother fucking cunt sucker" means "old buddy/pal of mine" aka "my best friend" and "your fucking shit" means "you" or "your body" and it's a compliment to be told "you looking like fucking shit today!" which means "damn you look good today!" "Don't be a cock sucker" means "come back soon".
In case you were wondering, Unicorn is from Northdam District of Biddeford, Maine, and he talks just like that. Unicorn's mouth is the reason the series is rated M18.
Interestingly, you can see the children of this district of Biddeford, talking exactly the same way. Toddlers 5 and 6 years old, greet each other on the school yards with: "Hey buddy! Fuck you man!" which means "Hello"
Biddeford is a fascinating city, if you ever want to study strange insectuous lifestyles of Maine's most infamous mill town. The city which is proud of it's Guinness World Record Plaque which says it has the most incest relationships of any town in the world, at a rate of 73% of its 26,000 residents, with the majority of couples being siblings to each other.
This by the way is typical speech pattern of a ESL person whose original language was either Gaelic or Scots English (My native language, thus why I know it and am able to write a ESL character who speaks it.)
However, if you're not familiar with the grammar of both languages, you are likely to write their incorrect grammar, into gibberish. A person who speaks French as their first language, speaks a vastly different broken English, from the person who spoke Gaelic as their first language, and both are vastly different from a person who speaks Russian or Chinese or some other language.
"What'd ya get?"
"I saw this un just had to have it..."
"I know right?"
"Where'd you get it?"
"You found something like that.."
"I know, right?"
"I know right?"
"I know right?"
"I know right?"
"I know right?"
Real people do not talk like the way characters in books, TV shows, or movies talk. No one even gives any one a chance to say a full sentence. Wow, could you imagine if a person actually sat down and waited the 30 seconds it takes for the other person to get to the end of their sentence? And yet, in books, movies, and TV a character can speak not only in full sentences, but other characters actual give them time to speak in full paragraphs!
I think, the best writing, is when an author blends the two. Lets a character get a full sentence out here and there, but also realistically moves the conversation along quickly with lots of broken fragments of (realistic) bad grammar. This allows the reader to zip through the dialogue quickly, without getting bored by long winded monologue, at the same time it isn't just meaningless banter that could be removed and not remove any story.
If you are having trouble keeping your readers, reading dialogue, most likely the issue is big words that are not common to everyday speech, monologues, and info dumps.
As a general rule, unless you are dealing with a character who speachifies (which is unusual and not likely to be encountered often), no one is ever going to say more then 2 sentences before the next person starts talking.
This is a case where I use "The Rule of 7"
The Rule of 7 states that, in real world conversations, the average person rarely uses more then 7 words per sentence and rarely uses words longer then 7 letters long. There was some sort of research study done, back in the 1980s or 1990s, which had determined this.
I don't remember who did the study or why, I just remember that when I read the report of the study, it inspired me to go and look at the conversations I was studying, to teach myself how to write dialogue and, they were right.
Why any of this is, I don't know. What I do know is that, for us as authors, the Rule of 7, helps us to write dialogue in a way that keeps our readers, reading.
Doing this will help keep your readers interested and moving forward because it keeps your characters' conversations flowing smoothly and fluidly.
Interesting, slightly on topic side note:
There have been several studies done by various universities, medical schools and psychiatric teams, whom have each come to a very interesting conclusion:
You can usually tell a person's IQ by how much and how often they talk.
Out of the 8 billion people on the planet, only 2 million of them have an IQ of more then 130. Of those 2 million "smart" people, only 20,000 of them live in America.
Ironically 1 in 3 Americans (120 million people) have self diagnosed themselves as Aspies, stating the reason they self diagnosed themself as being because they had a "high IQ". A "high IQ" is an IQ of 135 of higher.
Only 20,000 Americans have an IQ over 130, yet there are 120 million Americans who claim to have an IQ of 135 or more. Meaning at least 119 million self-diagnosed Aspies, are lying through their teeth about both their IQ level and their diagnosis of having Autism.
Interestingly, while there are 120 million Americans claiming to be Autistic, since the 1800s there have only ever be 40,000 people WORLD WIDE diagnosed with Autism, which in spite of urban myths, still to this day, remains on of the rarest diseases out there.
Know what Autism is, before you self diagnose yourself with it. There are a lot of wild myths, rumours, and conspiracies around Autism, being spread on social media by people with no medical training.
If you are an author seeking to write an Autistic character, there are some interesting legal facts you should be aware of that are not often mentioned in so-called "Autism Awareness" literature.
And yet, there are 120 million Americans proudly proclaiming to be self-diagnosed as Autistic...with the majority of them having no clue what ACTUAL Autism even is, and them being shocked and horrified when they are presented with ACTUAL facts about Autism, from ACTUAL Psychiatric handbooks, used by ACTUAL Psychiatrists when diagnosis, this horrifying mentally crippling psychosis.
A person who had a REAL diagnosis of ACTUAL Autism, is a person who has been so horribly traumatized by sexual assault during their early childhood years, that they are no longer able to function in society and are forced to live with phobias so nightmarish, that they make PTSD look like a dance through the tulips.
I know this is off topic to dialogue, but when you think about it, no, it isn't.
I bring it up, because of the recent trend of writing Autistic characters, by authors with no clue what Autism actualy is, how it is diagnoses, or what causes it.
They end up trying to write "Autistic dialogue" usually portraying an Autistic person as someone who is mentally retarded and incapable of intelligent speech, when in fact, someone with Autism can speak, but they are terrified to do so. One of the primary symptoms of Autism is Social Anxiety which manifests itself via Selective Mutism, Punding, and Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour.
In situations where they are calm and relaxed they can talk o people they know and trust, with no difficulty, and often more coherently then a normal person. However, around strangers, in large crowds, in stressful situations, the synapsis in their brain which control speech, stop firing properly, and they become physically mute, incapable of speaking any words at all no matter how hard they try. If forced to remain in this situation for too long, they go into convulsive seizures, caused by not enough oxygen reaching their brain.
Portraying the dialogue of an Autistic person should not be done by any author who has not known someone who is ACTUALLY Autistic. While 1 in 3 people CLAIMS t be Autistic, only 40,000 people have ever been ACTUALLY diagnosed as Autistic in the last 200 years. ACTUAL Autism is extraordinarily rare and your chances of ever encountering an ACTUALLY Autistic person is 1 in 17 million.
Please keep in mind that Aspergers is NOT a type of Autism, and should NEVER be used interchangeably with the word Autism
Aspergers is one of the 60+ diseases, disorders, and illnesses known as an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The term Autism Spectrum Disorder means an illness, allergy, disease, disorder, or psychosis that on first appearances LOOKS like Autism and may share many of the symptoms of Autism, could feasibly be misdiagnosed as Autism, but lacks the extreme levels of early childhood sexual assault which triggers the misfiring of the synapses, which cause Autism to occur.
Autism is essentially brain damage, caused by extreme levels of terror, that stopped proper oxygen flow to the brain, causing the death of brain cells, causing the synapsis to not hit each other when they fired, resulting in brain signals being made, but the message not being received by the nerves, resulting in the child knows what they need to do (talk, eat, walk, etc), but they can not get their brain to power their body into doing it.
An illness that is "On The Autism Spectrum" means the illness has 3 or more of the same symptoms as Autism.
In order to get a diagnosis of Autism, the doctors are required by federal laws to first rule out all of the 60+ illnesses on the following list:
And, like I said, all of this seems off topic, but, I have Autism.
I know what it is like to live with Autism.
I know what it is like to go through the grueling process of being interviewed 100+ questions about your early childhood sex life, by 3 different psychiatrists.
I know what it is like to survive horrific levels of child abuse extreme enough that doctors did what is almost the unthinkable and diagnosed me with Autism, a diagnosis that is not handed out lightly.
I know what it is like to next have to deal with a long line of police, FBI agents, lawyers, and courts, because Autism is THAT severe of a diagnosis, that on what few times it is gven, the doctors immediately alert not only the local police and the state police, but also the federal police aka the FBI.
I also know what it is like to "talk like an Autistic person" and live with selective mutism, to be raised with only bantams and feral cats for companionship and to be at the age of 31 years old, not able to speak any Human language but be able to speak bantam and cat fluently.
I was 37 years old before I learned to speak American English.
I wasn't able to talk, largly because no one saw fit to talk to me.
I was 31 years old the first time I was introduced to the concept that I was a Human. I was raised being told that I was a Demon and was not allowed to eat with the Humans, not allowed to sleep with the Humans.
The pictures of the room I was kept locked in the first 31 years of my life, sent shock waves through the social workers assigned to my case. You can see them on this page here.
I know ACTUAL Autism well, because I'm one of those rare few 40,000 people to ever receive that diagnosis. It sickens and disgusts me when I see self-diagnosed Aspies running around boasting the joys of Autism. If they knew what ACTUAL Autism was, they wouldn't be so proud to have it.
But I add this section to this page, because I'm deeply disturbed by the recent trend of supposedly "Autistic" characters in fiction... characters who grew up with loving parents, in happy homes, and clearly never suffered from any of the things which cause Autism.
Most Autistic characters in fiction are very clearly either characters who have Downs Syndrome or Asperger, which are both on the Autism Spectrum, because both share similar symptoms to Autism, but are on the Spectrum because neither is Autism, and people with Aspergers or Downs Syndrome re NOT actually Autistic.
I add this section to this page, in the hopes that authors who read this, will be more careful in the future, to get their facts straight, and to NOT believe everything they read on Wikipedia.
The Kanner's Syndrome page of Wikipedia, once upon a time was written by a psychiatrist train in dealing with Autism, but, that page was, about 5 years ago, re-written by teenagers with self-diagnosed Aspergers, and now only gives information about Aspergers and contains no information about Autism at all.
Sadly, finding any ACTUAL medical information about ACTUAL Autism (Kanner's Syndrome) on the internet is next to impossible. Largely due to the fact that while there are 40,000 Autistics total ever of all time, there are 120 million Aspies just in 2017 alone. Aspies are quick to spread misinformation about Autism far and wide on every social media, and yet most of them have never even heard the name Kanner's Syndrome before, and most, also can't tell you the symptoms or causes of Autism, when asked.
It is my hope that at some point this thronging fad of Aspies running around falsely proclaiming to be Autistic will eventually get their heads out of their asses and actually do some REAL offline research using REAL medical books, and find out what Autism is and then stop misrepresenting us Autistics (and giving us a bad name... Aspies and their obnoxious habits, has resulted in the recent rend of "Autism" and "Autistic" being used as a hate slur for anyone who acts obnoxious.)
Until then, all I can do is hope that authors have enough sense to do their research and learn the truth about Autism vs Aspergers from actual medical handbooks used by psychiatrists, instead of running to proud Aspie mommy vlogs with there mercury and vaccine conspiracy theories.
Please, if you are reading this:
DON'T write an Autistic character unless they have ACTUAL Autism.
If the character has Aspergers, call it that. Don't fall into the urban myth trap of writing an Aspie character then saying they have Autism.
Autism is NOT Aspergers.
Aspergers is NOT Autism.
The dialogue of the two are vastly different.
Aspergers are talkative, but shy. There is not brain damage causing their speech issues which go away as they reach adulthood. As they become less shy, they recover their ability to speak.
Autistics suffer from damaged synapses in their brains and have physical inability to speak properly. You can not regrow dead brain cells. They will never recover their ability to speak "normally".
Someone with Aspergers speaks in a dull, droning, monologue ing, monotone, that is described as "robotic". It is very distinctive. They pause between each syllable, take a deep breath, and then say the next syllable. They often struggle with the pronunciation of the syllables and may get stuck on one repeating it.
*punches self in face several times to force words to reset*
*punches self in face several times to force words to reset*
ha-ha! pee-pee! penis! pee-pee! penis! peepeepenispeepeepenispeepeepenis! woo-woo! I'm a train! hahahahaha! PENIS!
To write Asperger speech the way it actually is spoken, would be a horrifying thing for a reader to try to read.
Note, that ALL people with ACTUAL Aspergers, talk like this, and if you encounter a "self-diagnosed Aspie" who does NOT talk in that very distinctive one syllable at a time droning robot speak, sporadically interrupted by shouting out dicks and penises, then they DO NOT have Aspergers, no matter how much they swear up and down they do.
Please remember that while 1 in 3 Americans identify as a "self diagnosed Aspie" that more then 80% of them, when they stop being conspiracy theorists long enough to go to a doctor, receive an ACTUAL diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and NOT Aspergers.
An alarming 80% of so-called Aspies DO NOT speak in the distinctive robotic speech and this is because they DO NOT have Aspergers at all. This robotic speech pattern is in fact the PRIMARY symptom that doctors look for when making a diagnosis of Aspergers. If the person lacks this extremely distinctive way of speaking the doctor will cross Asperger's off the list and look at one of the 60+ other Autism Spectrum Disorders.
For an author wanting to write an Aspie character, and do so accurately, you would be dealing with writing one of the absolute worst possible dialogue speech patterns an author could attend to write, as Aspies do not speak in sentences. They do not even speak in words. They speak in syllables, with long pauses between each one.
To try to accurately portray the dialogue of someone with ACTUAL real, Aspergers, would be a daunting task for any author and an exercise in patients for any reader.
Interestingly, this unusual speech pattern goes away with age. By their late 20s to early 30s, they have learned to speak in what is known as "parroting" or "mimic talk" and will begin to speak in a near identical speech pattern of their favorite actor, right down to mimic accents.
If you want to write a character with Asperger's, and have them have a lot of dialogue, your best option is to have it be an older Aspie, one whom has moved past the robotic stage and has become doing the mimic stage as, they are able to fake more or less normal sounding dialogue by that point.
Like Aspies, Autistics also have a very distinctive speak pattern that stands out.
Autistics have a very childish, often high pitched, squeaky mouse-like voice. Some people when they hear it describe it as "Elf-like" or "fairy-like". Bigots who hate gay men, often refer to the Autistic voice as "the gay man's voice".
Because Autistics are nearly always asexual, rarely ever marry, usually wear pink, glitter, and capes, and walk with a distinctive "Autistic hop-skip dance step", many male Autistics, are inaccurately labeled as being "flamboyant gays" by people who don't know what either Autism or gay mean.
Gay men who have the "gay voice" are in fact Autistic, which is also why very few gay men actually have the "gay voice". It is also why gay men who have the "gay voice" are also extremely flamboyant.
However, more often then not, a flamboyant man with the "gay voice" is not gay at all, and only gets labeled as gay by bigoted gay-haters.
Autistic men ALWAYS have the "gay voice", which is in fact the "Autistic voice" and is caused by the previously mentioned dead brain cells which cause inaccurate firing of the synapses of the brain, which in turn causes the vocal cords to function differently then in normal, non-Autistic people, resulting in the air flow through the vocal cords flowing at a different rate, therefore resulting in a child-like, somewhat squeaky-mouse, high pitched voice.
Like the stiff, robotic Aspie speak, the sing-songy, bubbling, child-like Autistic speak, is unmistakable, and once you hear it, you will never forget it.
Since you've likely never heard it, let's now watch a video interview with an Autistic man in his late 40's. Listen and notice how he talks as though he were 3 years old. THIS is the Autistic voice...
You will notice, that like all other Autistics, he uses very short, simple words, speaks with a 1st grade vocabulary, barely communicates above a Kindergarten grade level of grammar, uses short sentences. Repeats words and phrases frequently. And has a child-lke bubblely giggle, that constantly interrupts ever sentence.
These are all symptoms of Autism.
For you as an author, it becomes a challenge to write an Autistic character's dialogue accurately, because you have to force yourself to NOT use common everyday words and grammar, instead use Kindergarten words and grammar.
Also, do keep in mind that in order to be diagnoses as Autistic, you must have a LOW IQ of under 90.
One of the biggest urban myths (out right bold faced lies) self-diagnosed Aspies spread on social media about Autism, is the rumour that Autistics have a high IQ.
When diagnosing a person with Autism, they are required to take a series of IQ test. If they get anything higher then a 90 they are deemed too high IQ to be Autistic.
MOST Autistics have an IQ of around 75, which is deemed "clinically retarded".
The rumour of a high IQ stems from those who are Autistic Savants. Meaning, they are retarded/low IQ in nearly everything, but have one single, solitary interest, skill, or hobby, that they excell in.
Liberace for example was Autistic Savant and could play piano by ear from the age of 3 years old. While he played piano on stage, around the world for millions... he could not read music notes, was nearly illiterate, struggled to read and write, could not do math or numbers, could only go shopping with the help of his very protective older brother George, never had a driver's license, required adult supervision and caretakers his entire life, was cared for by his brother George most of his life, and fell desperately ill after the death of his brother at which point he had made an attempt to live on his own without caretakers, and quickly succumbed to near starvation after going several weeks forgetting to feed himself.
Liberace was described by his closest friends and family as "an eternal child" who often said they envied his childlike inability to comprehend that bad things existed in the world. His ability to mentally comprehend subjects like wars was lacking. Because of his Autism, he retained into adulthood, the child-like innocence of trusting everyone, seeing the good in everything, and seeing the world as nothing more then a happy place to run around in sparkling capes while chasing butterflies.
If you want to write an Autistic character.... keep in mind the fact that, they are described by psychiatrists as:
These are all very important aspects to consider, when writing the dialogue of an autistic character.
When writing the dialogue of an ACTUALLY Autistic character, writing their actions as they talk, is an important part of conveying how they communicate. It is very necessary to include mentions of the fact that they are twirling around on tip-toe, and staring off into space giggling about the thought of purple unicorns pooping rainbows.
Alternately when they are frightened, they sit on the floor and scream, while hitting themself in the head, and trying to punch the terror out of their brain.
Remember, an Autistic adults body language and actions, speak louder then their limited words, and it is a very important part of writing an Autistic character's dialogue accurately....
Quaraun is an adult (Elf), the equivalent of a 45 year old man...
In conversations, Autistics use a lot of repeated phrases, especially "I don't know."
Talking to an Autistic adult is no different then taking to a 4 year old child. Their phraseology, logic, and reasoning ability are all on the same level of a toddler.
A typical conversation with an Autistic adult goes like this:
Please remember that ^^^THIS^^^ is how someone with real, ACTUAL Autism talks and writing their dialogue as though they were functioning on any sort of adult level, is automatically you portraying them inaccurately.
The movie Rainman, is actually the single most accurate fictional portrayal of an ACTUALLY Autistic adult, ever portrayed in a movie. The actor in preparing for the part, went to group homes and mental health institutes to interview, study, and get to know the speech patterns and habits of ACTUAL Autistic adults, resulting in his alarmingly accurate portrayal of being an adult with Autism, even though he himself did not have it.
If you don't have access to meeting a ACTUALLY Autistic person in person, your best alternative is to watch Rain Man...
Everywhere I turn there's a new book misusing yet another mental illness. I hate how characters act normal until all a sudden a plot changes requires them to "act crazy" so suddenly they are acting crazy, then the plot device over and they act normal again.
Mental illness ain't like that, you can't turn it on and off whenever the plot needs it.
Writers rarely get it right. And I would like to see that changed.
Dialogue is a good place to start.
Someone with Autism does NOT talk like a normal person. Their dialogue is different. Noticeably so. But it's also easy to get it very wrong and it may just be better is authors DID NOT have Autistic characters in their books at all, because portraying a disorder inaccurately, can have very damaging effects on people with that disorder later on.
Additionally someone with Autism, rarely is able to do math, can not buy things or use money or credit cards because they have no functioning ability to understand how money works. Dialogue can be a good way to show this in action, especially when the dialogue is broken up with actions...
If you want to write an ACTUALLY Autistic character, study the life of an ACTUALLY Autistic person. How they dress, how they act, how they talk, how they think.
Liberace is the perfect example of a very typical Autistic adult.