The process of using dialogue and accents to enhance humorous stories is easy. The following is a short video where I demonstrate English, Scottish, and Irish accents while telling a funny story.
How to Use Dialogue Effectively in Stories
- Write out your story, make it concise, make the scenes in it highly visual, then highlight the sections where you are going to incorporate dialogue. This will help prompt you to use dialogue and accents at these sections when practicing. In the screenshot you can see how I have highlighted dialogue parts in blue.
- Put your story in the present tense. One way of doing that is to start off with words such as “picture,” imagine,” or “visualize.” For example:
- Picture me camping in the wilderness of Canada…
- Imagine me in a very scary scenario…a bear encounter…
- Visualize a scenario where I am awoken by a large creature outside…
- Practice using different men’s/women’s voices and accents. Note: Many speakers fear trying different accents because they’re afraid of doing them “wrong.” The accent does not need to be technically accurate. It just needs to be different enough for the audience to have a clear understanding who is speaking. E.g. My wife is Canadian, but I struggle to do a Canadian accent. I give her an English-sounding voice in my stories.
- Study different accents to get a feel for the pronunciations and expressions. (Go to YouTube and type in “French accent,” “English accent,” or “German accent” to get voice training videos. You can even get more specific if you want to hear accents by gender, age, etc.).
- Speak while facing different directions for each character. It helps the audience distinguish characters, especially if the characters have similar accents. For example, speak to your right corner for one character, and your left corner for the other.
- Take on the persona of the person, animal, or thing you are portraying. (This might include facial expressions, gestures, voice, energy, expressions, etc.). See Lesson 6 on gestures, facial expressions, and purposeful movement.
- Characterize the emotions of the characters and portray appropriate levels of fear, delight, anxiety, etc.
- Keep the dialogue natural and fluent. It should feel comfortable to you and should not be too wordy.
- Compliment your story with a combination of visual details and physical descriptions. Keep it believable.
- Think about your dialogue tag lines. Watch out for overuse of “he said” and “she said,” among other common dialogue beginners. Use narrative sentences to describe the character’s immediate actions, location, etc. Note the lack of “he said, she said” in the bear story example at the beginning of my story examples.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more…out loud! Have fun portraying your characters.
- Video tape your practice sessions and critique them.
This is a series of blog articles and brief videos on “Finding the Funny – Learn the Step-By-Step-Process to Develop and Deliver Humor & Funny Stories & Incorporate into Serious Content.” The blogs are excerpts from my e-learning course (see link on right) which includes:
- Over 16 lessons
- Over 8 hours of video instruction
- Activities and quizzes to complement each lesson
- Downloadable worksheets and templates
- 12 month access to course updates and additions
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Copyright © MMXX by David R. Hill