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If you're reading this, then chances are you will be using dialogue at some point in your story. Good for you. Dialogue is important. It should be there to save you when description doesn't work. The following are some tips for awesome dialogue.

Tip One: Know your characters.
Before anything comes out of your character's mouth, you need to have an understanding of the character as a whole. This will influence how he or she talks and interacts with others.

Some good questions to answer are:
-Where is your character from?This can mean the difference between your character calling a carbonated beverage "soda" or "pop". Your character's origin can also influence how he or she says a word ("pahk" vs. "park" or "pin" vs. "pen"). Dialect is very important. If you can, try and research speech patterns of the area where your character is from.
-What is your character's social/ educational status?This is important to know because this is the basis for your character's vocabulary. Generally, characters of lower social and educational status have a limited vocabulary and are likely to use slang (curse words included) as emphasis or a "space filler" when speaking. Grammatically incorrect speech is acceptable. Conversely, characters of a higher social or educational status will tend to use grammatically correct speech patterns and have a broader vocabulary. Unless it's a specific speech trait, chances are that characters of higher social and educational standing won't default to a curse word if the proper word doesn't come to mind. Don't feel as if you have to eliminate them from the character's vocabulary though. Also, you don't have to whip out your thesaurus to make your character sound educated.
-What is your character's personality? It's important to know if your character is more likely to give a one-word response or will talk the other character's ear off when addressed. Does he or she talk a lot? Does he or she feel the need to always have the last word? Is your character sarcastic? Or does your character always speak the truth? These are just a few questions to answer.
-What is your character's age? Generally, people of different ages speak differently. Unless you want your adult character to speak like a child, make sure that you have the speech patterns correct.

Tip Two: Understand male and female speech.
Males and females don't speak the same way. Unfortunately. So, it's important to know some key differences between the way that the two talk. This does not hold true for every male and every female, but it's good to know if you've never written dialogue for a character of the opposite gender or if you want to make your writing more believable.

Females are generally more emotional in their dialogue. Expect to use exclamation points. Expect to emphasize words. Female characters ask more questions than their male counterparts. Female dialogue is personal. They also are more apt to use more personal pronouns in their speech. If personal pronouns aren't used, then specific names or nicknames are. The goal of many female characters is to appear cute and helpless(bleh). This is achieved by using childish dialogue.

Example: "Daddy! Can I please borrow your credit card? There's a new cashmere stripey dress at the store. It's four hundred dollars. I asked Mommy, but she said to ask you."

Females are also generally more descriptive as well. Details are important. Males are generally less emotional and more deliberate in their speech patterns. Words are not often emphasized. So, when you want your character to put emphasis on a word, make sure it's important. Males generally don't ask questions unless they want a specific answer or the question is rhetorical or sarcastic. Males use pronouns differently in their speech than females. Females mostly use them inclusively. A male character will use a pronoun exclusively.

Example of male pronoun use vs. female pronoun use:
Male- "I took some chick with me to the movies." The focus is on the speaker as an individual.
Female- "We went to the movies." The focus is on the speaker as part of a couple.

When a male uses inclusive pronouns with or in reference to another character ("we", "our", etc.), there is a closeness between them. The male may or may not be aware of this. Nicknames are also used sparingly. Details are also not as important in most cases. What color is his shirt? Chances are a male will call it "green" rather that "Kelly green with hints of a shade nearer to kiwi". Homosexual characters may adapt speech patterns of the opposite sex. This is not always done on a conscious level, but serves the purpose of making the individual appear more attractive to prospective partners.


Tip Three: Use the right emphasis.
The words that a character emphasizes are important. So, it's up to you to make sure that your character is emphasizing the right words to convey an idea to another character and, ultimately, the reader.

Look at the variations of the following sentence as an example.

"I really love you." There is no emphasis anywhere in this sentence. All of the words may be of equal importance or the speaker may not consider any of what was spoken to be important.

"I really love you." The speaker is important.

"I really love you." The degree of love is important.

"I really love you." Love is important.

"I really love you." The listener is important.

"I really love you." Everything is important. Different from the first example in that it is clear that the speaker wants the listener to know that every word has meaning.

Tip Four: Set up dialogue tags correctly.
This applies more to actual writing in a manuscript, so feel free to jump to the next tip if necessary. Dialogue tags are used to indicate who is speaking. They can vary according to the writer's style, but there are some things that you should be wary of when writing. Do not capitalize third person pronouns in a dialogue tag unless you are referring to a deity, some other penultimate being, or your character has the misfortune of having said pronoun as a name.

You can write the following and it is stylistically correct:
"Yeah, he left at two," he said.
"Yeah, he left at two." he said.

Tip Five: Don't be afraid of sentence fragments.
In real life, people don't always speak in complete sentences. Don't feel like your character has to, either.

Tip Six: Playing the name game.
Don't feel like you have to make your characters always refer to themselves or address each other by name when they speak. People don't often do this in real life. However, because this is not real life, there are times when an author will have his or her characters do this. They are:
(1) When a character is new. The character may introduce himself or herself or another character will do it;
(2) At the start or end of a chapter or after lengthy absences in the story. It's important for the reader to remember a character's name;
(3) In instances of lengthy dialogue. This way the reader will be able to tell who is speaking or being addressed if names are not given in dialogue tags;
(4) When there is something special or significant about the character or his or her name. Clearly, there is a reason that everyone is mentioning Sir Mahogany Pants.

Nicknames are also important. They can say a lot about a character or another character's impression of him or her. They denote a level of familiarity and intimacy. (Or sometimes they just mean that a character has a hard time with names.)

Nicknames may be used either positively or negatively. For example, consider the difference between a girl calling her boyfriend "baby" or "stupid". Also, nicknames may be used to soften a verbal blow or a command.

Nickname with a verbal blow: "Honey, do you have any idea how absolutely annoying you are?"

Nickname with a command: "Take out the trash at the next commercial, sweetie."

Pet names are a variant of a nickname and are often used when addressing someone that the character is romantically involved with. For example, an overly affectionate character might have nicknames for all of her friends and anyone she comes in contact with, but she may have a special pet name just for her significant other.

Pet names can also be a great indicator of "wishful thinking" or hinting that a character has feelings towards another. For example, your character has a crush on Rob. Rob is no longer Rob in conversation, but instead is referred to or addressed as Robbie or Robbiekins for added emphasis. It's important to note that unless the characters are romantically involved or very close to one another, using pet names can make a character come across as annoying or petty.

Pet names are also acceptable in familial relationships. For example, a parent may call his or her child by a pet name unique to him or her rather than using a more generic nickname like "sweetie" to denote affection.  

If you aren't sure whether to have your character refer to another character by a pet name or a nickname, just ask "Would my character call a stranger by this name?"

Tip Seven: Be careful of word choice.
This refers to writing in general. Diction can make or break your character's dialogue and your writing career. In real life, you may not be able to hear the difference between "there" and "their", but there is one; and, the attentive reader will notice your mistakes. If you have trouble with homophones (words that sound the same, but are spelled differently), keep a dictionary handy.

Some commonly confused words are:
-to, too, two
-definitely and defiantly
-they're, there, their
-effect and affect
-your, you're, yore
-its and it's
-then and than
- a lot and allot (which means "to give") (vs. the imaginary alot)

Tip Eight: Review grammar and mechanics.
This is another general tip.
Here are some handy hints to help you with your writing:
-Apostrophes do not indicate that a word is plural. They can be used to indicate that a noun is possessive or that a word is a contraction. For example, CD's does not refer to more than one CD. It means that the CD owns something. (The only exception is writing letter grades or discussing math functions.)
-Commas are your friend, but use them correctly. A good rule to use is "When in doubt, leave the comma out" (that is, until you can go find an English handbook or a good editor friend). Commas should not be used to combine complete sentences together.

Tip Nine: Make sure that you are familiar with a language before you use it in your writing.
This refers to smatterings of a foreign language that may come out of your character's mouth. At first glance, it may look cool or sound cool to have a character use a language outside of what you are familiar with. However, it's important to know that there is nothing kawaii desu about complete gibberish.

Tip Ten: Practice! Learn!
This is your most important tip. Practice writing dialogue whenever you can. Listen to how others speak. Listen to what you have written. Read your work aloud. Ask friends to listen to what you read and then comment back to you. Learn from this. Incorporate what you learn into your own work. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Uploading this here so that more people can incorporate some awesomeness into their dialogue.


Note that these tips are subjective as are the results of said incorporation into your own work. This means that you do not have to follow these tips if you find them unhelpful. Also, this is not a "be all, end all" guide. Your writing is your own.

For additional tips about writing children's dialogue, go here.
For a quick exercise in writing dialogue for your character, go here.

Use this link to reblog on Tumblr: cooljazsheepie.tumblr.com/post… (The Tumblr link is not updated.)
Use this link to retweet on Twitter: twitter.com/cooljazsheepie/sta…

*updated 2/11/15 with a teeny blurb on pet names. 
Add a Comment:
 
:iconlonghairlover:
LongHairLover Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015
really helpful and good points. thank you so much for sharing.

LHL
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Professional Writer
You're welcome! 
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:iconxlacie:
xLacie Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Student Filmographer
This is very useful, thanks.
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Professional Writer
You're welcome!
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:iconbrassbuffalo:
BrassBuffalo Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I never really thought about dialogue that way before... This is going to be really useful to me! Thanks so much! :icondragonhugplz:
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Professional Writer
You're welcome! Glad it's going to come in handy.
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:iconqkuwm4ru:
qkuwm4ru Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2011
hey, cool tutorial! ;) I never thought about the difference between male and female speakers before =P thanks, this would help me since I'm a dialogue whore when it comes to making comics :D
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2011  Professional Writer
Glad you liked it!
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:iconpuppy-eater:
Puppy-eater Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Student General Artist
This is great for what's in the dialogue, especially for comic writers.
There's still a lot more to discuss when you're doing prose, but this covers a lot of essential information.
Great job. :)
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Professional Writer
Thank you!
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:iconchromic7sky:
chromic7sky Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
great tutorial!! :w00t:
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2011  Professional Writer
Thank you!
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:iconchromic7sky:
chromic7sky Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:XD:
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:iconsumgie1:
sumgie1 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011
Thank you for an interesting tutorial. It's pretty fun to come across such tutorials sometimes. Though, actually, I don't read them to learn anything - I just read it for fun and maybe for some things to consider. :)

Personally, when I write dialogue, I usually first think about what I'm trying to achieve with the certain dialogue, then try to imagine myself in characters' shoes and then improvise.
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Professional Writer
You use a good tactic to write dialogue.
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:iconsumgie1:
sumgie1 Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2011
Thank you. :)
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:iconcrazymeau:
Crazymeau Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is excellent, thank you for posting this. I especially liked the part about emphasis, I've never thought about that before. Thanks :D
Reply
:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Professional Writer
You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. :3
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:iconfshounen:
FShounen Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011
Oh, you know what you should put in there? "Would have". People put "would of" all the time, and it drives me insane.
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Professional Writer
Yeah, that one's right up there with "irregardless".
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:iconjoewillsart:
JoeWillsArt Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Artist
Thanks. I'm currently writing a manuscript. This helps a bunch!
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Professional Writer
Glad to help!
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:iconroxxicolettestar:
RoxxiColetteStar Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Student General Artist
cool check out my story i worte. and this is very helpful. thanks!
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
Note me with the link, please. :3
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:iconesvandetta:
Esvandetta Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I don't really like this guide. It's fair other than a few pointers.

A female-male thing is bullshit. It depends on the personality of the character; that is much more important than the person's gender.

I'd say the best thing for someone to do is know the character enough to get into the person's head. As I learned from T.A. Barron: The character is complete when you can see their facial features/emotions and you can hear their voice in your head.

I have found that those guidelines are perfect and I don't stop until I complete that. All of the characters I have ever written about I can hear. I love it when I can hear a person's voice and think "*snap* That's (name of character) in spades!"

I also think that the person must have a signature facial feature (for example.. my avatar's sig. feature is a sheepish, yet mischievious grin as if he's saying "Don't hate me, but that's what I think... hehe"

Another thing,

The emphasis is not that important. If you have to add emphasis, you are obviously assuming that you have an auidence that is as unimaginative as a brick wall.

If the person has any creativity to them, the person will gradually develop a unique voice in their head and "hear" the emphasis there. Caps in extreme times (like someone gets stabbed, so another yells "BRIAN! Oh
god, SOMEONE GET HELP!!") are acceptable for all genders.

Third,

When it comes to insults/commands using nicknames... that should be use sparingly. I would use that at the beginning of an arguement or for someone who is verbally abusing another. That's a touchy one that people shouldn't really use.

I also don't like that you're assuming several times that you're talking to people who are not fluent in english. We couldn't read this too well if we weren't. We're not foreign/stupid; don't treat us like it. A perfect example of this; Tip 7.

There is only two tips in the whole ten that I can agree with you on; the first one about knowing the character is very important. While it's the most obvious, it's the most important one there!

The other is the use of foreign language. Yes, you sound like a moron if you fuck up with another language. People who are fluent in that language will scoff and call you an idiot. If it happens too often, you could lose readers entirely.

Once again, When I saw "Amazing Dialogue Guide" I was expecting much more than the average, mainsteam bull. I was expecting something unique and fresh. Anyone who has some remote storywriting skills should know all of this.

Sorry to write a bad comment, but I think you can do much better on this. Was this just a "did it because I wanted to" tutorial?

Thanks,
~TLA
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
TLA, thank you for you comments. I appreciate them. I noted in my own comment that this guide was subjective rather than objective. I also noted in the very beginning and throughout the guide that these do not apply to all characters.

I'd also like to point out that the male/female section comes from actual interaction with other real people. The two sexes do speak differently.

I agree that it is true that a character is complete when you can see expressions and hear the voice, but the emphasis of this on dialogue--not necessarily physical expressions.

While you may not see emphasis as important, other writers may. Also, note that while the use of capital letters is acceptable for emphasis, generally writers will opt for italics because it looks better published.

With the negative uses of nicknames, I was just indicating that that was one way of using it--not that people should or should not use it in such a way.

I'm sorry that you felt as if I was giving the impression that the readers were stupid or foreign. I was just drawing attention to mistakes that are easily overlooked in everyday writing. I can't tell you how many times I've seen native English speakers make these mistakes. While you may be aware of what is right and wrong, some writers may not be.

I'm glad that you were able to take away something from the guide even if you found the rest to be less than helpful. I'd be happy for you to suggest how I could make the guide better--or a better guide in the future.

Thanks, Jazeki
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:iconesvandetta:
Esvandetta Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
... you're too sweet :hug:.

You are right... and I was just being an ass.

My writing style is not the only writing style out there... and in my own life the border between male and female is so blurred that the difference is almost non-existant. I have some very VERY detail-orienated men in my life and they're not gay either. I guess I just assumed that men are like that. I completely forgot about the "indifferent" kind of person.

Youre dialogue guide, as I mentioned before, covers only a basics, but I didn't remember the fact that (after the basics) it's the writer's verbal styling and flair that kicks in.

Now that I've calmed down, (and reread) it's a fine guide. It needs a few touchups (as with any piece of work) but it's a great tutorial for the beginner!
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Professional Writer
Thank you. That was my intention...to create something for beginners and people who needed a quick fill-in on the basics.
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:iconashikai:
Ashikai Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love you, Jazzi! *-*
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
<3
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:icongeneralarin:
generalarin Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Really helpful- Thanks for putting this up!
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
You're welcome.
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:iconpilee:
pilee Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This. Is. SO. HELPFUUUUL OAO!!!! I'm gonna use this to infinty and beyond. (Especially since I've just started paying extra attention to the personalities of mymale ocs. Being female myself it's a bitch.)
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
I know what you're going through with being a female and having male OCs.
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:iconpilee:
pilee Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's HELL! I found myself going over their dialogue again and doing barf sounds at the femininety. . .then again thinking aobut their reactions at all is kinda hard. Taking the time to get to know your characters really is a chore.
Still fun though.XD
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Professional Writer
Yep. I'm sure if you interact with them enough, you'll get everything down right. :3
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:iconpilee:
pilee Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yup. . .tho I't hard cuz doin' it kinda makes me feel schizo =/
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2011  Professional Writer
You just have to ignore that part. :/
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:iconpilee:
pilee Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hehe, ignore the schizz! Yep, nicer to focus on the actual voices in stead of the hypocondric disease.
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2011  Professional Writer
Much nicer. XD
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:iconmanah-angel-eyes:
Manah-Angel-Eyes Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good tutorial!
I make the "Apostrophes do not indicate that a word is plural." mistake, because in the Netherlands we do use them that way (auto -> auto's) XD
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
Well, I think it's becoming an accepted part of culture for people to write like this--even if it's wrong in English. XD
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:iconxxpaintedskyxx:
xxPaintedSkyxx Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:iconclapplz:
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
:iconbowplz:
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:iconporecomesis:
Porecomesis Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Student Writer
Thank you very much, although I do disagree with the

"Yeah, he left at two," he said.
"Yeah, he left at two." he said.

thing. Out of the two, I feel only the top is correct.
Reply
:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
You're free to disagree. That's why I noted it's stylistic. :)
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:iconporecomesis:
Porecomesis Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Student Writer
Well, alright then.
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:iconwakamash:
Wakamash Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011   General Artist
This is really helpful, thanks!
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:iconjazeki:
Jazeki Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
You're welcome!
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:iconwhiskeyii:
whiskeyii Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2011
The title says it all. This is amazing! I especially loved the bits about male vs female speech.

By the way, do you have any examples of children's speech patterns? I feel like that's how most people end up making kids talk like adults; it's just because they don't know how kids actually speak in real life.
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