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Spoken Thusly

Jane Espenon, writer of such fabulousities as ‘Buffy…’Gilmore Girls’ and now owner of a development deal at NBC/Universal recently wrote an illuminating post on spoken dialogue that sounds as if it were written (using Anya, from ‘Buffy…’ as an excellent example). As someone who speaks in written form and who has a penchant (?) for writing written dialogue I’m fascinated with naturalism.

I have what is these days called a speech hesitancy. It’s been a near-constant companion now for twenty-eight years. Years and years of speech training has reduced the hesitancy considerably. It doesn’t affect my writing (nor my singing or speech making) directly, but indirectly… Because I plan my sentences and don’t use those natural pause sounds like ‘Ah…’ or ‘Um…’ (due to being trained out of it) I only know ‘naturalistic’ dialogue from others. I love listening to people (and privately reconstructing their speech to fit my own). There are days when I’d like to be able to switch from my melodramatic speaking pattern to something more antipodean, not as a fitting in mechanism but rather because it would be useful. There are some parts of this great country of mine where speaking like a nounce can do your head in (in the most literal way); I sometimes have to pretend to be a foreignor.

I’m not sure where I am going with this. A lot of my fiction is either pastiche (usually of 1940s radio) or features solitary characters who are forced to talk to themselves or non-human entities. In part this is because I like soliloquies and melodrama. It doesn’t always make for great writing, but I’m fairly good at editing out most of my own pretentiousness. Yet I can also blame my penchant (?) on my own verbal inadequacy. It’s something I’m working on, something that having work performed is really helping with. Hearing my work performed, especially by other people, makes me realise just how awkward some of my writing can be to speak out loud. It can be a fairly embarressing learning curve.

Another of my works in progress. More news as it comes to hand.