I’ve posted about this subject in the past, and the time has come to mention it again.
I was watching a movie the other night. The suspense was high, a bad guy was trying to catch a young woman, and she needed to run and hide. She happened to be with a friend while all of this was going on. She said something like, “I have to run and hide. He is going to catch me if I don’t hurry.”
Okay, in a time of high stress I’d probably be more likely to say, “I’ve got to get outta here. He’s going to catch me if I stand here and talk about it.”
My issue? The formality of her statement. If someone was chasing me, I probably wouldn’t say, “I have to do something and I need to do it in a hurry.” In a moment of stress I probably wouldn’t be thinking about using proper English. I’d be thinking in terms of getting out of there. I wouldn’t be saying, “I have…,” but more likely I’d be combining words and saying, “I’ve…” just to hurry things along.
“There is a killer after me, oh dear, oh dear, and I must hurry to a safe place where he cannot find me.” That kind of makes me cringe. I’d rather hear the character say (breathlessly, of course), “There’s a killer after me and I can’t let him find me. Is there a back door here?”
Does that make sense? In fact, I might just run and not say much of anything. But we’re talking about a movie (or a book). You often need dialogue to further the story.
You could say, “I have to go to the store and after that I am going to run a few errands.” More likely, if it were me, I’d say, “I’ve got to hurry to the store and then I’m going to run a few errands. Be back later.”
My point is, keep it real. Think about how you might say something, or how your neighbor or a relative might say something. Does combining words make us lazy? I don’t think so. I think it makes us real.
“Frederick, will you not come to the party with me? You will liven things up,” or “Freddie, won’t you go with me? You’ll make the party fun. Love your sense of humor.”
I wish I could recall more of the lines from the movie, but it was so annoying that I began tuning it out. No, not all of the examples above came from the movie. I made them up, but that’s what I do.
However, there are times when using both words is the right thing to do, as long as you’re emphasizing something. “I will not sit here like a ninny and wait for the bad guy to catch up to me. Now get out of my way!” (I’m assuming someone told our heroine to sit down and take a deep breath before overreacting.)
Do you pay as much attention to dialogue as I do? Does it kind of bug you when it sounds too contrived instead of natural? Is it just me???
Changing the subject, but I’ve been writing a weekly blog since 2010. Maybe I need to take a vacation from it. I’m running out of ideas. Hopefully something of note will come to me soon.
Until next time, listen to the way people around you speak this week. Decide what sounds natural and what doesn’t. Maybe I should actually be suggesting you watch a current movie and pay close attention to the dialogue. Well, your choice.
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