This should be fun
|Lesson Five Exercise – People Listening This week take a couple of days and indulge in some people listening sessions. As you are doing your people listening try and identify different accents, different modes of speech, and different ways speech reveals things about the speaker.
Make a list of at least ten different speech patterns that you hear. Next to each one make a few notes of the type of character who might use that identifying method of speaking and how you might use them in your story.
Julie: Julie is of Hispanic descent and about mid 40’s in age. She rolls her r’s. She is overweight, which may attribute to the hints of breathiness and the gasping that filter into her communications. She is slightly off center mentally, and often ends up howling, crying and screaming about undetectable toxic fumes. She calls various professionals to tell her story to. There is one that gives an attentive polite ear and that is the one she clings to, the one who gives credence to her meandering style of communication. She latches onto all polite listeners like a buoy in turbulent waters. All of her communications seem to have that hopeful/demanding need to be understood and believed. She has a magnificent memory. She remembers every one who helped her, gave her the brush off, referred her to a wrong number….she knows and she remembers. Her voice and communications take on that nastiness that roils up as the thoughts and memories ferments over time because her memory just will not let go.
Monique: Monique is about 60 years old and a heavy smoker. She dies her hair and wears heavy makeup in an attempt to look younger. Her tonal quality is rather raspy/scratchy due to the smoking. She sniffles a lot. She gets irritated easily and can’t understand why people don’t see things the way she does. She does not care who she is talking to, if she is irritated, she will go off on that person. She has even been known to take a stick after a police officer. That level of tension and edginess is how her speaking comes off to the listener.
Reece: He is a pharmacist fresh out of college who thinks he knows everything. His lack of respect shows in how he communicates with his customers. Reece’s favorite statement when dealing with a customer making a complaint is “sorry about that”. He drops his voice, rarely looks a person in the eye. He has a light Midwest droll has taken on an air of superiority which seeps into his communications.
Kim: She is model gorgeous. She is always well dressed and wears her make up perfectly. She is in her mid-30s and has no trouble expecting her parents to take care of her. She is privileged. She is a bit paranoid and quite religious. She speaks with conviction and will over talk any person she does not agree with. She speaks in rushed fashion because she has so much information to relay and wants to get it out all at once. She spews out facts in rapid succession it leaves the listener with their head spinning trying to comprehend all that is going on. As in her dress, her speaking is designed to be that of wealth and good breeding. Kim has a treasure trove of facts about the dark things that will soon happen and urges all to pray to the precious blood of Jesus. She speaks with determination, conviction and authority of the rich and privileged.
Gregory. He is 20. Tall and lean. He is respectful. He is studying to be an engineer. Anything computer is easy for him. He learns quickly. His favorite expression is “Fantastic.” He speaks with a smooth Midwest tonality, but does not use slang as others his age do. He carries himself with an air of good breeding and that upper class upbringing carries through in his speaking quality and word choices.
John: Mid-50s, light brown hair, a little pudgy, proud father and husband. He coaches soccer on his time off. Has the mannerisms and way of delivering a line that can land as either quite cocky or boyish charm. He has a little nasal pitch to his voice when he is goofing around and it turns into stern low tenor when he is being serious and wants to deliver a point. He has the demeanor and communication delivery of someone who is used to taking charge and his direction to be followed.
Rhys: This s a 2-year old boy who is the apple of his daddy’s eye. He has his daddy’s features and prefers to wear the flat cabby beret just like his dad. He has no fear. He loves everyone. His sweet angelic voice carries over the whispers thrum of any crowd. He greets everyone with “Hi, ya” and a hug. His voice carries with that unbridled joy of being in and amongst people.
Jonathan: Born in the Midwest and now living in Hawaii. His voice has retained a little of the Midwest word choices, but has taken off the easy laid back Island cadence. He has adjusted his Midwest accent to accommodate the Island vibe.
Don: This is an elderly man who is a minister. His voice raises a couple notes to a tenor tone when he is making a point and drops to a low timbre when he is fumbling for a word or thought. He slurs his sh and gh sounds, almost like he is producing too much saliva.
Bjorn: He is a boisterous and funny man of 28 years. Stocky of build and has a rugged bearded appearance. He has a baritone voice and can project his voice across a wide room. He giggles when he tells his funny stories.
Lesson Five Writing Assignment - Dialogue For your writing assignment this week, write a 300 to 400 word dialogue scene. In this scene reveal something about your character, that is vital to your plot, by how and what they say. Do not use more than two dialogue tags. Instead, use actions to identify your speakers.
She stopped and stared at the entrance for a moment. This was a dumb design for this cold a climate. She followed a student through the double-slung glass door to the left of the revolving door. She strolled up to the security window to speak into the intercom.
“Hello, Mrs. Ross. You know the drill. Fill out this name tag. Do I need to ask where you will be going?”
She pulled the tag out from the pass-through and harrumphed, “No.”
“The office is --”
“Over there. Yes, I know.”
She delivered an icy stare as she affixed the name tag to her shirt, “Same as always.”
“You raised a nice boy, Mrs. Ross. I don’t know what he could possibly do that would land him in there.”
She ignored the request for gossip and made her way to the head office.
Before opening the door she briefly surveilled the boy fidgeting in the office. His head jerked up as the door slammed shut.
She wanted to be stern, “You’re going to hit bone if you chew on that thumb any longer.”
He smiled and tucked his hand under his thigh, “Sorry.”
“Put both feet flat on the floor. You ruin your shoes when you do that.”
Charming was not working. He jerked his feet from the cross step and slammed them down on the floor.
She ignored that cocky stare of his, “What did you do this time?”
She dropped into the seat next to her young idiot. “You can’t get into college with your grades.”
“Whatever. I’ll just enlist like dad.”
“We’ll talk later.” Kristin rose and extended her hand, “Mr. Abraham, how are you?”
“Fine. Fine. Come in. Take a seat.”
“No, thank you. What’s the charge?”
Gently massaging the back of the leather high back that he would like to be sitting in, he instead pushed the folder marked Anthony Dawson Ross towards her. “It’s a school record, not a police profile. This is what we have.”
She thumbed through the folder before throwing it across the desk that divided them. “That’s bull. He’s smarter than that.”
“Unfortunately he has not proven that.”
“If I drop out will that solve the problem?”
Tony quit fidgeting when he had the attention of both adults. “Well? Will it? Will it solve your problem?”
“Son, be quiet. Mr. Abraham, are those grades good enough to get him graduated at least?”
“We will make it work.”
“Fine. If not, get him a GED. I’m done here. You, out.”
“Hey, mom, that was cool. Can I slam the next door?”