How to Develop a Character’s Speech Hello MassiveCrafters! If you are reading this I can only assume you love roleplay, and you love a good fleshed out character. Well, what’s one thing characters do an awful lot of? Speaking! Speaking to other characters will likely take up most of your time in roleplay. As such, the difference between a good idea, and an engaging and interesting character, can be how developed their speech pattern is. What does how your character speaks say about them? This is my guide to developing a speech pattern for a new or existing character. First step: Decide on a few key words that will describe how your character speaks. For this guide, I’m going to be using an example character and developing their speech along with you. So, let me introduce you to Marco the suave Dressolini sculptor. Now this is by far the easiest step since you should already know how to describe your character, but for example let’s give him some words to describe Marco’s speech. Marco can be suave, adventurous, verbose and no small amount of arrogant. If you can’t think of any words, consider your character’s traits, or find some online. Second step: Get some inspiration. “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Steve Jobs is certainly correct with this quote. Go out and find some inspiration for your characters. Look at film, television, stage plays, famous people from the real world, your local store clerk, anyone who has a certain way of speaking you want to copy. Try to compile a list of ideas to grab from. It’s much easier to develop a speech pattern when you have something to base it off. Remember you don’t need to use every aspect from every example, you could use one for a general structure of what they might say and another for how they might say it. So, for this example let’s use Flynn Rider (Tangled) for a general feel of the character, Gilderoy Lockhart (Harry Potter) for a more specific pattern and let’s throw a little of The Scarlet Pimpernel in there for good measure. Third step: Decide on some key phrases. This is an important one so you’ll need to put your thinking cap on in here. This’ll be what your character is known for. Your catchphrase. If someone hears this phrase they will immediately think “Oh that’s this character!”. To build some core phrases, start with a single word that your character is known for using. For Marco lets choose the word ‘magnificent’, since this easily sums up his view of himself and such. Now let’s choose a phrase to replace. A good one to start with is to give your character a distinctive way of saying goodbye or hello. There is no strict science to this, just find a way to say it that suits the character. So, for Marco, let’s have him say goodbye by saying “May the Spirit bless this magnificent day!” This may not be the final iteration of this phrase but it’s a good starting point. Rinse, wash, repeat. Chose the same or another word, and make a short list of five or six phrases your character might use. Let’s replace “Hello” with “Buon giorno, my dears.” And “How are you?” with “I would like to hope that your day has been magnificent?” At this point you have a functional speech pattern for your character, and you can go ahead and continue developing it through roleplay. The following options are just for those who want to put some more thought into the speech. They don’t need to be followed in order. However, make sure every decision you made is a conscious one, that reflects your character. If your character has a speaking pattern it’ll be the first thing people notice, so don’t make choices at random! Fourth Step: Use accents or other ways to show regionality. This only applies if your character has some regionality. For Marco’s case, we have Dressolini. If your character doesn’t have a distinguishable voice because of their homeland you can ignore this. Some players can physically write the accent into the speech, and kudos to those players, however I both find that difficult to do and difficult to read, so instead I’ll focus on other methods. If you do play a Slizzar or Allar or some race with a very distinct accent you should consider adding in the ‘zz’ or the ‘ss’ associated with their speech. But again, speak with Eyrok or someone else who can write that since I can’t teach it. There are however other ways of showing regional dialect. The easiest one is to use words from the language associated with it. For Dressolini we might use certain common phrases like “Si” for yes and “grazie” for thank you. These are from Italian that the Dressolini language is based off. Another good idea, if you can put the effort in to do it, is to use words rooted in the language of your character. English has borrowed many words from many languages so finding ones should not be too hard. For Italian, some good words might be bravo, escort, inferno, partisan and vendetta. Fifth Step: Make some rules for word choice and sentence structure. These rules should be easy to remember and work around. Does your character prefer harsh sounding words over soft words? Does your character prefer words with positive connotations over negative ones? Perhaps they always alliterate every aspect of their speech when allowed. Whatever it is, it’ll flesh out the voice and add a bit more character. Then, what about the sentences themselves? Do they prefer long, winding, sentences, that flow from the tongue? Or are they quick? To the point? With short snappy sentences? D-Do they stutter and… and let their sentences take f-forever. Or are they constantly—do they always change their train of thoughts? As if they can’t—almost like they are never quite sure what they are about to say? I can’t give a method for making or finding these rules, you just should find them from your own character or look at how your inspiration speaks. For Marco, he rarely ever uses ‘mild’ words like capable, poor or polite. Instead he prefers much more extreme descriptions such as masterful, squalid and gallant. His sentences tend to be long-winded and filled with adjectives. Most important step: Practice! Much like making a character you can write a whole character sheet, but unless you get into roleplay and try out the pattern and see what you make of it, it could change drastically. It’ll take a while at first, you’ll have to think over every line of dialogue you post. However, after a week it’ll come almost naturally and soon you’ll find it takes almost no thought to speak as your character would. And so, we arrive at the end of this guide. If you’ve made it this far, well done! We should have a good idea of what our character speaks like now. So go forth you glorious people and be verbose, or crude, or subtle, or imbecilic! Whatever your character demands. I hope it helped and please, post your own suggestions, methods, or results in the comments.