Thursday, January 24, 2013

When Characters Get Too Wordy

by Amanda Stevens

I’m not the best person to blog on the subject of writing because I mostly do everything by instinct or trial and error.  I never stop to analyze why, when or how, and I don’t like to follow a lot of rules.  But there is one trick I’ve learned over the years that I’m more than happy to pass along, although I have a feeling it may be one of those things that doesn’t work for, well, anyone but me.  Nevertheless, here we go.

Years ago I attended a workshop where the speaker claimed that female writers often over-write their male characters, especially when it comes to dialogue.  We have a tendency to have our pretend men speak the way we would like real-life men to speak, i.e. more like us.  I don’t know if this is true for most or even a few female writers, but it struck a chord with me.  My male characters do tend to get a little chatty. 
So my trick is simply this: If I have a male character that is getting too verbose, I allow Clint Eastwood circa Two Mules for Sister Sara to slip into my head. To be clear, none of my characters look like Clint or sound like Clint or even speak like Clint.  I’m not even a big Clint Eastwood fan.  But having him 'talk' for my male characters allows me to trim their dialogue.  Then I simply go back in and tweak word choice, phrasing and tags to suit my real character.

Ta-da.  Tip of the day, for whatever it’s worth.

Oh, and Cillian Murphy seems to works for me, too.


Jordan Dane said...

This cracks me up. Whenever I talk about writing male characters, I tell people that I write what I want, then go back and delete half of it.

I also love writing back to back scenes where the reader gets the woman or girl's point of view, then follow it with the guy. One scene, the girl went on and on about THE KISS. In his scene, it turned into: I kissed her, damn it.

Amanda Stevens said...

LOL, it seems kind of stupid, I know, but this really helps me.

Jordan Dane said...

I know, right? Writers are weird. *snort*