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Posts Tagged ‘characterisation’

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, let’s identify some of the more common words and phrases that identify your character as an Irish man or woman.

Here are a few to sprinkle your character’s idiolect (personal language) with:

  1. Acting the maggot = acting the fool, joking
  2. Banjaxed = broken, ruined
  3. Craic = gossip, chat
  4. Ceilidh = dancing and music
  5. Colleens = young girls
  6. Cod – eg making a cod of himself = making a fool of himself
  7. Eejit = idiot
  8. Gob = animal mouth
  9. Press  = cupboard(as in Linen Press)
  10. Soft day = drizzle, mist
  11. Wet the tea = make the tea
  12.  I have no money at all at all (for emphasis)
  13.  No ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so:  ‘Are you coming home soon?’/I am./I am not!
  14.  I’m after hitting him with the car = I hit him with the car
  15. She’s after losing five stone. (Intention)
  16. T’is herself that’s coming now. (Emphasis)
  17. I can speak Irish, so I can. (Emphasis)
  18. Sure, I can just go on Wednesday.
  19.  I will not, to be sure
  20. Will I make a cup of tea?

Your character’s speeches can provide information that will move the plot forward. But speech can also play an important role in characterization by placing the character in the context of space and time. You can pinpoint his or her place of origin – whether it’s Ulster or Ottery St Mary – by offering the reader words and grammatical structures found only in that place. Sometimes this can be accurate to an uncanny degree!

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As a writer, the search for a value system may not seem relevant to you but it is – and not just ‘relevant’, ‘central’. Even if you’re surprised you have any values, the first step as always is to identify them.  Let’s see what comes up.

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