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Doggie666

How to Speak like a Human

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You suck at replicating human speech when you roleplay.

It's okay; I suck at it, too.

Now that we have a mutual understanding of each other, I'll compliment you by saying you are probably a lot better when you roleplay as your shiny whitelist. Me too, me too.

You consciously think about how your character speaks as a non-human. When you're a human, well, it's easy to talk like a human, right? You are one, after all.

Wrong!

Maybe you said no to that. Okay, well, you're still wrong. You're letting your speech guard down, even if you don't realize it.

This is a guide aimed at helping you perfect your human speech intricacies.

..

(Welcome to feedback).


Writing like a Human

Alright, now stay with me. I know this is a guide about speech, but we do writing when we roleplay, too. Or, you should, at least.

Write notes to people. Send people messages on your PDA and through consoles. We're in a culture, in our present world and in our future setting, where humans avoid face-to-face conversation when they can.

It's a matter of convenience, and you should take advantage of the mechanic.

Now, speaking and writing are different.

Humans are terrible at speaking, but they're even worse at writing.

Don't write your texts like an academic paper (unless the situation calls for it). Even if your character is well-spoken, they probably text like a ten year-old.

Don't be afraid to shorten words in your texts, either. If your job and busy and important, your character isn't going to have time to write a novel.

Use LOL! Use LMAO! Even use LMFAO. Show off all of your character's favorite smileys. It's realistic.


General Principles of Human Speech

I'm not even talking culture! I'm here to make big generalizations!

Humans talk different than they write.

When you write (academically), your writing lacks the nuances of speech. That doesn't mean your writing can't have a voice, but your character's speech will contain the following aspects that are absent within writing:


- Pauses and pause words

We can't proofread our speech, so instead we have to think about what we say before we say it.

Pff, just kidding. We suck at that. More likely, your character will speak with a lot of pauses: uhms, uhhs, and the works.

It isn't hard to do this naturally. Picture your character speaking. Throw in a pause word when you feel like they'd naturally hit a speech snag, or when you yourself feel like you're thinking of what your character should say.

"So, uh, do ya wanna get gargle blasters some time?"

"Hm, okay! Sure, uhm, that'd be great!"

Alright, you won't use them that often normally, but consider the context of the situation. If two characters are attracted to each other, they're going to be stumbling on their speech like they're falling down a flight of stairs, their heads full of drool-inducing infatuation.

Even when you have a "well-spoken" character (you fucking nerd), they won't always be typing like they're giving a presentation.



- Weak intensifiers

You use these all the time when you talk, but you shouldn't ever write that big term paper with them. However, I encourage them here. What am I talking about?

Very. Just. Like. Totally. Super.

Here's a very good sentence. I'm kidding, just like, it's totally not a super good sentence.

You talk like that, even if you don't admit to it. So should your character. Here's some more realistic examples.

"He was super cool with it. Signed the waiver and I totally beat his ass."

"That wasn't very nice of you. Can't you just not hurt people for once?"

I bet you're thinking you already do this. You're wrong. You don't do it enough.

The amount of noise words we let slip out of our mouths is incredibly sad. Make sure that your character reflects that by saying a lot of unnecessary words.

You don't get a free pass to speak well just because you're roleplaying.


- Tone and expletives

Your character is working for a company. That being said, we don't always maintain a tone of professionalism at work. Only when we have to. As humans, we put on different speech masks for different people and different situations. Your character should do this, too. They don't have to, of course, but they'll probably be nice to their boss, let a few expletives fly in good company, and become a little looser after a few drinks at the bar.

A good rule-of-thumb for expletives is to not use them all of the time. Not just because it's unprofessional, but because it's boring. Let them fly out in moments of terror or rage, as that's when humans tend to turn off their filters a little easier. That's what cuss words were invented for: to be jolting and attention-getting. Don't let your words lose power.

Or they swear like a sailor. Whatever. It's your character, not mine.


Speaking Ceti Basic

Even if your character isn't from Tau Ceti space, they may speak perfect Ceti.

Or not. Play around with broken Ceti, especially if your character is from a place where it might not be as popular (i.e. Ceti is still a commerce language on Sol, but may not be popular in parts of the Frontier).

Ceti is spoken across human space, but speech is a lot more complicated than just knowing a language.

Characters will have mannerisms particular to them as individual, but they also will have cultural mannerisms and speech quips related to a specific dialect.

When imagining your characters speech, keep in mind what people in their faction sound like.

You can construct a good idea of this based on the human lore pages.

For examples, Elyrans will have speech mannerisms consistent with their colonial ancestors, who are largely from Arabia, Persia, and North Africa.

Do some research with how people from there talk. Don't be afraid to infer and make up, as long as it's convincing!


And now, on the most human planet:

Characters from our very own planet Earth can be wonderful, but look at a map of what Earth looks like within the lore's present. Understand that countries as we know them today do not exist in the same way, and between that and hundreds of years of globalization, there is a degree of cultural homogenization on Earth.

That doesn't mean you can't play a cowboy, though. I play one.

Yee haw.

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This is good, it's very easy, in my opinion, to tell if someone's pretty much self inserting or their character is pretty much identical to their last one.


If I could give a couple of examples, at the risk of rubbing my ego.


My Journalist character Henry Walker, tries to be unassuming, humble and will rethink what he's saying mid sentence. 'So, I've see you've got a Elyran flag? I don't uh... mean to assume, but I wouldn't take you for an Elyran. Though that's probably down to what I guess, is my ignorance.'


My Chef Aariz Ghannam is always about being welcoming and open, especially with food. 'Hello my friend! You should eat something hearty. I always say, hard workers need good food to keep a fire in the belly.'


And then my Detective Ali Walters. Tries to objective or factual, keeping her emotions right at the back. 'Salutations, my name is Detective Walters. I would like to ask you some questions, pertinent to a recent case.'



I mean, it's hard to give an example of how a character talks with just one line and my interpretation to how my characters seem might different to others. But there's a lot you can do, outside of stuttering and long pauses to give your character a flare. That's just my contribution to this thread. Good idea by the way.

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Fantastic post.


This is solid advice, and advice used by professional authors. It's the difference between stiff, sameish dialogue and something enjoyable to read. Recognizing that you suck is the first step to improvement; that advice alone is helpful.

 

Humans talk different than they write.

This is your biggest hurdle. We're writing characters who are speaking. It's important to transcribe how they would talk as accurately as possible.


Jakers provides really good examples. Another suggestion is to look at people on station: You can tell the difference between Erin MacGregor, Tabi Trekers, O.R.B., and Amaya Stone just from how they transcribe their speech, and it gives you insight into their personality.


I'd like to add on to this a little!

= = =


Say It Out Loud

This is the biggest thing writers do to improve themselves, and it's doubly effective for dialogue. Say the words out loud and write down how it SOUNDS. Saying it in your head is not as effective as speaking it. It's weird and embarrassing at first, but it's probably the most helpful thing you can do for yourself. It forces you to slow down and really HEAR the words.

For example, say someone asks you if you're a security officer, and you reply "Yes, I am."

Say it out loud. It's kind of stiff and generic, right? Maybe that's what you're going for, but it's kinda dull. Say these out loud instead:

"Yep!" / "You got it" / "Yes, sir!" / "That's right." / "Mhm..." / "Sure am!"

These all say the same thing but you can hear the difference in the speaker's personality.


Inflection

We have the advantage of being able to bold, underline, and italicize words when we type. Use this for a notable change in inflection, usually on a single word.

Take the following sentence: "I didn't say she stole my money."

Say it out loud. Now say it out loud again, but put the emphasis on a different word each time (Ex: "I didn't say she stole my money") See how it changes the sentence? It's a useful tool to make your character's voice come across how you want. Just... don't overdo it. It'll lose its emphasis.


Fuck the rules!

Yeah!!! No, really, re-read what the OP said about not writing an academic paper. When it comes to dialogue, the only grammar rule is to do whatever it takes to make the voice accurate.

Type "Y'know" or "Yaknow" instead of "You know." Throw commas, just, anywhere, to get the pauses right, for how you talk. Streeeeeeetch out the words (Even if you're not a tree!) Repeat, uh, repeat words with, uh, fillers, to show you... To show you kinda, like, are trying to think as you, as you like talk, y'know? Trail off mid-sentence when you're.... yeah, jumping thoughts, kinda. Use exclamation points! Sentence fragments!


Read and Write

Basic advice, but the best way to write like a human talking? Read more. Write more. Pay attention to dialogue when you're reading a novel or fanfic. Try your hand at writing your characters interacting with each other. Experiment! Try to find a voice.


= = =


Those are my contributions to this thread. The OP is filled with really solid advice and honestly? Thank you for writing it up.

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I think a few things need to be taken into consideration.

 

  • [*]Some characters speak stiffly on purpose. Not all human beings are bundles of unbridled energy. Their coldness often speaks platitudes on who they are as a person and why they conduct themselves in that way, which is often a subtle layer of depth by itself. You don't usually look at it that way, but once it occurs to you, you realize how much it says about that character. It's extremely easy to be a critic about less emotional characters.

[*]Whether a character decides to be grammatically correct or not is based on their background and whether they deem it appropriate. A person that's grammatically correct is often one that has deep respect for language conventions and takes speaking a language very seriously. A person who isn't grammatically correct is better characterized as more of a free spirit that shows off their nonchalant nature and raw emotion whenever they can, just because.

[*]The point about cultural homogenization on Earth is not true. While some of the same nations surely don't exist in some capacity anymore, Earth is still a rather diverse division of various cultures, races and beliefs when it comes to the people that live on it. Sol Common may still be the nationalized language, but there are thousands of dialects all across Earth, such as there's various dialects in Tau Ceti, or Adhomai, so on. The manner in which one speaks their mind depends on where they come from and how they speak it.

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PRO TIP: I don't know if i saw it HERE but, for example, I like to talk like THIS a lot. just, REALLY emphasize your shit. REALLY give your voicce CHARACTER. you can probably find my character in a crowd if they OBNOXIOUSLY talk loudly on some words, and it really makes your person feel PREPPY, HIP, UPBEAT, and all around JUST AWESOME!!!!


take my advice and never finish a setnence just make a constant run on sentence as well.

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I think a few things need to be taken into consideration.

Some characters speak stiffly on purpose. Not all human beings are bundles of unbridled energy. Their coldness often speaks platitudes on who they are as a person and why they conduct themselves in that way, which is often a subtle layer of depth by itself. You don't usually look at it that way, but once it occurs to you, you realize how much it says about that character. It's extremely easy to be a critic about less emotional characters.


Whether a character decides to be grammatically correct or not is based on their background and whether they deem it appropriate. A person that's grammatically correct is often one that has deep respect for language conventions and takes speaking a language very seriously. A person who isn't grammatically correct is better characterized as more of a free spirit that shows off their nonchalant nature and raw emotion whenever they can, just because.

These are very good points. The key is that you need to be aware that you're doing this on purpose, and doing it consistently. If it fits your character to use perfect grammar and speak stiffly, do it! There's still plenty of way to put personality into it with things such as word choice, pauses, inflections, etc.

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