TV Tropes: Realistic Diction is Unrealistic

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Have you ever noticed that in books and theater (and less on TV and movies but still there) characters speak with impeccable diction?

You can blame it on this trope.

The reason is clarity. If characters spoke the way real people do (see the trope page for a long list of examples) nobody would understand them. The most we as authors allow ourselves to do is the use of contractions. I, on the other hand, believe that grammar/syntax rules do not exists inside quotation marks. Realistic diction is realistic and therefore things like interruptions, mumbling or other techniques are vital to give each character their own voice.

The trick is to “have enough language abuse” as someone commented on this blog a few years back. Just enough use of real diction to ground the speech, but not so much that it pulls the reader from the story. Plus, the diction has to fit the character. A military officer will use clipped military jargon, a college professor may ramble on in extended passive voice and a teenager like, you know, use a lot of place holders.  So don’t be afraid to mangle your speeches, when necessary.


4 comments on “TV Tropes: Realistic Diction is Unrealistic

  1. I particularly like
    “…..and hoping nobody else involved in the constipation will notice.”
    (It reminds me a real life scenario where someone said ‘masturbation’ instead of ‘mastication’)


  2. No my comment disappeared… it that because I put in a word that may be considered ‘off limits, or because it has gone for moderation….


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