If the writer's done their job well with speech mannerisms, they sometimes don't need to identify the speaker. Levine tells of a judgmental character in her book, The Wish, who adds or takes away points. When the speaker said, "It's pretty weird, Wilma. Five points off for strange behavior," the reader automatically knew who was speaking. Pretty cool.
Levine's advice is to pay attention to what people say, and take note of how they say it. Here are some speech mannerisms I've noticed in others:
- A man I know clears his throat each time he speaks
- Young people often say "like" a lot when they're speaking (like, you know, the valley girls of the past. Like, not that I would know anything about that)
- Some people start sentences with "you know" or "listen"
- Parents might use the full name of a child when upset, and a nickname when they're pleased
Personally, I need to put much more thought into fun details like this. Can you think of any speech mannerisms you've noticed? Or any you've used in your characters?
I'm much more comfortable adding this type of communication to my manuscripts. Characters, like real people, send strong messages without speaking. I wrote an article for kids about the subject here, and learned fun details through research.
Did you know that 93% of our communication is non-verbal? We don't have to tell the reader our character is embarrassed. We can write that his face is flushed, his feet are shuffling, or he's fiddling with his shirt sleeves. Showing, not telling.
If you're unsure which body language matches which emotions, The Bookshelf Muse is the best place to start. The thesaurus entries on the sidebar are valuable tools for writers.
Have you used speech mannerisms and body language in your writing? What other forms of communication can writers use?