Speech Writing


microphone by Pizza527 http://www.flickr.com/photos/deanhp/ / CC BY 2.0

So the written and spoken word don’t always mix well. Although writers try to capture realistic dialogue, it doesn’t, um, like really work all that well, ya know? I mean, really, who wants to hear someone trip over their tongue for an entire novel? When I speak, my number one word of choice (well, more happenstance than choice) is um. Thanks to truly realistic dialogue, novels would at least triple in size, turning Animal Farm-sized novellas into Harry Potter-like tomes.

And if I spoke as winsomely and eloquently as a character in a novel? While this isn’t something that I’ve contemplated a lot, I’m guessing that listeners would quickly shut off, having their attention diverted by anything with with movement or flashing lights. When we’re listening, apparently us humans need breaks to help process spoken words. That’s my unscientific guess anyway.

But, what about speeches? People expect more from them. No ums, likes or ya knows. They want something deeper, but you can’t wax too eloquently, you need to keep people’s attention and give ‘em a take away phrase or two. This hybrid of oral and written language…can it actually translate to paper for a sustained story? Should it? Here is a BBC article about the techniques of speech writing. I’ve heard of most of these techniques before for speech writing, obviously, and for advertising. But would (do) these techniques work in prose? In novels? Is this something that is in every novel and I’m just missing it?


2 thoughts on “Speech Writing

  1. Emily

    Unfortunately, I tend to write and speak with way too many dependent clauses…

    Perhaps that’s why vernacular and realistic speech is reserved for actual dialogue and not exposition?

    Apparently Trainspotting, the novel, was written phonetically, in the dialect of the setting [can’t remember which city]. We looked at a page in my Applied Lit class… I challenge you to read that quietly to yourself and understand it.

    • camsrobbins

      I believe Trainspotting took place in Glasgow…nope, Edinburgh. Just checked.

      That’s right. In the movie, the scene where they shoot the dog was filmed on Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum lawn, just down the hill from uni (pause while I reminisce). That’s what I was thinking of.

      I did look at the first page on Amazon. I was able to read it silently, but it took all my concentration 😉

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