Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 50: Slow Down Fast Talker

Coming from a background in film production, I started really paying attention to how people speak in order to write better screenplays. It always struck me as odd how unnatural the speech feels in a lot of even the best written scripts, and I wanted to determine why that was, and how I could do it better.

What I realized from this is that character's thoughts always come out way too well formed. Listening to actual people speak, they start, stop, rephrase and continue so many times that it wouldn't make any sense written down. That obviously shouldn't even be replicated in scripts because movies would wind up longer and even harder to understand. And when actual people speak, half the time they don't even use actual words. You wind up talking about that thingy that goes bzzt and *flail*. So only quirky characters on TV talk like actual people, like the Doctor. With his thingy that goes ding when there's stuff.

So, I started trying to emulate "normal" characters, and speak in an articulated, well-formed, clear and concise manner. Because if I can't make my characters talk like actual people, I need to have actual people talk like characters. Which is I guess why I speak in movie quotes, song lyrics, rage comics and tvtropes. It also means that I tend to speak relatively slowly, unless you get me all excited about something, and I tend to think a lot before responding. And so I found this particular information terribly interesting...

Lesson 48: People talk faster now than ever before.

According to Ray Hull, a decade ago, most adults spoke at about 140 words per minute. That was already too fast for children to understand, which explains why I always needed my mom to give me instructions one at a time, as they can only process about 120 words per minute max. Now? Most people speak at 160-180 words per minute. With my sister, I presume, topping the scale at an average of 240 words per minute.

Mr. Rogers apparently talked at about 124 words per minute.

I clocked myself at 130 normally, and 250 when I talk as fast as I can.

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