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Old 05-02-2012, 11:10 PM   #1
Violeta
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What Your Characters Say

You know when you remember a character, or a book,
that made such an impression on you that you remember
some of their best quotes months, or even years, after
reading them?

And I'm not talking only about classics such as Gone with
the Wind (loved it, btw), but recent novels from these past years as well.

My question is; do you ever wonder how could that writer think of those
memorable quotes their characters said?

I know it all comes down to creating realistic, believable characters, but I find it difficult to imagine
my characters ever being that witty, or funny, or wise, or even opportunistic! I don't know... I'm only
on my first draft, but still, I can't imagine such brilliance coming out of my mind. I think that would be one
of my favourite/greatest accomplishments, should I ever get there.

So, have you gotten there? Do you want to?
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:26 PM   #2
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I think I've gotten there. There are times when little revelations my characters have made come back and echo in my head. But I didn't push for those lines, they almost always came at a time when I was deep in writing mode where all sort of unconscious sludge slips out. My favorite author manages a few in each book. They really stick out, and I find myself pulling away with a big, "Whoaaaa."
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:27 PM   #3
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I would love to get there, but I have my doubts about my skills as well. I've been told dialog is one of my strong points, but my characters never sound as amazing as some of my favorites from other authors.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Violeta View Post
You know when you remember a character, or a book,
that made such an impression on you that you remember
some of their best quotes months, or even years, after
reading them?

My question is; do you ever wonder how could that writer think of those
memorable quotes their characters said?

I know it all comes down to creating realistic, believable characters, but I find it difficult to imagine
my characters ever being that witty, or funny, or wise, or even opportunistic! I don't know... I'm only
on my first draft, but still, I can't imagine such brilliance coming out of my mind.
So, have you gotten there? Do you want to?
I know the feeling, and I probably won't be able to write such lines.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:45 PM   #5
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I have a number of quotable lines in my current WIP. It's part of what I'm hoping will convince agents and publishers to accept my work, once I reach that stage.

Most of the time when I write these, it's not because I'm trying to be "deep" or "quotable" but because I'm writing with utmost sincerity, and in those moments I produce some good lines.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:59 PM   #6
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I'm pretty good with dialogue, especially the witty kind. But it's not really something I plan. I have a smart mouth as it is, and when I'm writing, I just let fly whatever comes into my head, a lot of the time. Sometimes it's like having a really snarky conversation with myself.

I don't encounter unforgettable dialogue very often (in fact to me, the best dialogue is the stuff that sounds like what every day people would say)--unless of course it's unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. I encounter plenty of that.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:59 PM   #7
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I can't really think of any lines off of the top of my head that I've written that would be considered 'quotable', but I did have a moment where my MC came to a realization at the same time I did. I think that's the closest time I've ever come to writing something memorable. .. if that makes sense at all, haha.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:19 AM   #8
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I love one-liners. I sprinkle them all over my WIP like salt. I'm hoping some of them are quotable, but if they aren't--hey, at least I'm entertained
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:51 AM   #9
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I'd strongly advise you not to worry too much about that in a first draft. Often I'm still feeling out the character, deciding on contours, features and flaws, while writing the first draft. Once I'm doing revisions, I've got a stronger picture of the character in my mind, and can tweak the dialogue. The really good lines seem to come then.
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:59 AM   #10
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Thanks for the advice, Manuel!!

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks about these things.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:21 AM   #11
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It's hard to second-guess what will resonate with readers and impossible to 'write for the ages'. So I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:59 AM   #12
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I used to suck at dialogue.

It wasn't until I just started writing whatever that came into my head when I thought it that it started improving, just based on what I thought a character like mine (a guttersnipe silent movie actress) would say. I didn't know if I'd keep it, I just wanted to get through the scene with something resembling action and dialogue.

I started my WIP in the 3rd person, and read another book in the meantime that really helped me gel my character's voice in my head (a book on women writers in the 1920s. Amazing find!). After that, my character insisted on telling her story in the first person. And then, I became a virtual machine, churning out one liners right and left. I couldn't figure out where they came from half the time.

I watched a lot of old 1920s and 1930s films, and combed my slang dictionary for great phrases I could either use straight or tweak a bit to get just the right sound. It really helped!

Another thing? I NEVER worry about this in the first draft. Since I am writing about real people, I worry about getting the bones of the story in, arranging them, re-arranging them (the scenes without as much punch get shelved), THEN I go through and adapt the voices to the characters. It has helped me SO MUCH not to stress about the writing of the characters right off the bat. That comes as the story takes shape.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:51 AM   #13
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I think it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to judge which lines will be remembered years from now. I doubt that the authors who have accomplished it even expected it from their own works.
Also, like Manuel said, it shouldn't be something to worry about in the first draft. I'm in my first draft and today I wrote a line that made me go "Oh! What a beauty!" However, I'll probably look at it tomorrow and say. "Eww! That's horrible!"
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:08 AM   #14
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I think quotable lines evolve from characters that are worth remembering. Rather than focusing on dialogue that may be remembered years from now, I'd work on characters. Fleshed out characters create fleshed out dialogue.

I mean, would Scarlett's words have been so d***ed memorable if Scarlett hadn't been so memorable, and if the words said in that exact moment hadn't fit her character and the situation so perfectly?

Think movies, for instance..."You had me at hello.", "Nobody puts Baby in the Corner", Or "You can't handle the truth!" just to name a few off the top of my head. I bet most people can name the movies these came from.

They're effective, memorable quotes because they fit the characters and the situations so perfectly.

Once you have the well-developed characters, you'll just KNOW when the dialogue fits.
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:01 PM   #15
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Those tips are great, thanks guys!

I think you all are right, I'll have a better sense of my characters after spending
an entire draft with them, so it doesn't seem necessary to overwhelm myself with that at this point.
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:14 PM   #16
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I believe that it is really down to connecting with your character(s) at such a level that they take over and then they come up with the magic. It comes from (or through) your subconscious. (Maybe it even comes from somewhere else.) I've had moments where my characters surprised me. A lot!!!! But those moments are so humbling...
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:52 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
It's hard to second-guess what will resonate with readers and impossible to 'write for the ages'. So I wouldn't worry about it.
This - although I try to write good lines, as best I can, so it's not exactly don't worry about it

Small embarrassing anecdote:

It was my birthday over the weekend and my SIL made me a cake, in the shape of a book, natch. On one side it said Happy Birthday, on the other side, it had a quote, obviously from a book. 'Nice quote' I said, 'It rings a bell, but where's it from?'.....

From my own first book, and I didn't recognise it. SIL, however, thought such a good line, she'd memorised it...Which was very nice. But I'm never going to live it down that I didn't remember it....(I wrote that book years ago!)
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Violeta View Post

My question is; do you ever wonder how could that writer think of those
memorable quotes their characters said?
I have wondered, but I try not to think about it. If I did, my insecurities would get the best of me and I'd end up like this:

And if that happened I'd never get any work done. I'd spend every moment second guessing myself.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdiotsRUs View Post
But I'm never going to live it down that I didn't remember it....(I wrote that book years ago!)
LOL That was fun. I don't have anything like that to be embarrased about, I'm still too new at this.
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNK View Post
If I did, my insecurities would get the best of me and I'd end up like this:
Exactly how I feel .
Right now I have plenty to worry about with getting the first draft done and all. But fortunately(?),
dialogue isn't even in my top ten list of worries . I actually think it's the only thing that's going
smoothly at this point, even if there are no memorable quotes in there .
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenmuse View Post
I've had moments where my characters surprised me.
Yeah, me too!!
Sometimes it's a nice surprise, others not so much... I have a
character whom I wanted to be the "best-friend/nice guy" kind of type.
Turns out he doesn't feel like it .
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