“What’s the point of living, if you can’t feel alive?” This is a key line in the James Bond movie The World is Not Enough. Words can make all the difference. They can define a character. When Electra King says those words while gambling away $1 million, we all hold our breath. You realize those words say so much about her as a character. Then when the male villain, Renard says the same words, Bond then knows that Electra is behind the problems. At first he thinks it’s Stockholm Syndrome where she falls in love with her captor, but then he realizes she is the mastermind in the plot to rule the world.
Why do I bring up those words? I’m a huge fan of dialogue and how it defines a character. We all know James Bond is well-known for his witty comebacks that make us chuckle. When Q is introducing his replacement, Bond asks if the man is called R. We expect these lines from a James Bond movie. It would not be James Bond without those lines. Just like a Batman show with Adam West would not be same without the “Holy Oil Spill, Batman” (or something like that).
We all know someone who has a favorite saying. Something you can always count on them to say. I have a friend who instead of cursing will say “Shitake Mushrooms” and another friend who will say “Sugar Honey Ice Tea”. We all know what they are trying to say, but instead of cursing, they have unique phrases that now always make me think of them. Your characters should have a special saying. Of course not all of them, but imagine if you had a character who had a special way of saying something. Perhaps it’s the governess or the heroine’s father. You don’t have to give the hero or heroine a special phrase, but a supporting character could have that line and it would spice up the story with humor or gravity.
How do you put it into your own stories?
Easy – think of your own life and the people in it. Who has a fun saying you could immortalize? Who has a way of saying something that always brings a smile to your face? Give that line to a character in your story. Make them memorable. Make the reader smile when they read your book by breathing life to your characters. They don’t have to be as cliché as James Bond or even Batman and Robin, but they will make your story become your own.
Try this – watch some of your favorite movies and reread some of your favorite books. What sayings do your favorite heroes or heroines have? Write them down. Then start to listen to your family and friends. Write down their favorite sayings. Soon you will have a list of sayings that you can use.