How Can You Successfully Write Slurred Speech in Text?

Writing slurred speech represents a unique challenge for writers, primarily due to the tangible audio-visual disconnect. The goal is to strike a balance allowing the readers to comprehend, while still emphasizing the character’s inebriated state.

Characteristics of Slurred Speech

Slurred speech usually manifests in characters through:

    • Consonant simplification: Consecutive consonants in words may appear condensed or altered such as ‘screeched’ to ‘skrichd’.
    • Grammatical irregularities: Propositions or connectors could be discarded which can lead to abrupt changes in tenses.
    • Confused pronunciation: Particularly the sounds involving the side of the tongue touching the teeth (‘rh’, ‘gh’ sounds).
    • Unexpected topic shifts: These add humor and serve to stress impaired speech.
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Illustrative Techniques

Various techniques come handy while writing slurred speech:

    • Irregular pacing: Introduce pauses within sentences to mimic the troubled rhythm of slurred speech, for example, “Wha… What am… I…”.
    • Speech Visualization: This involves using hyphens, extended letters, and made-up combo words such as ’nuffink’ for ‘nothing’, ’boutit’ for ‘about it’ adding to the visual impact of the dialogue.
    • Letter Interchange: This extends to switching ‘Is’ and ‘Es’ depending on the character’s usual speech, and changing ‘Th’ to ‘D’ in words, particularly those starting with ‘Th’.
    • Physical Indicators: Physical unsteadiness reflects heavily onto the manner of speech.
    • Tongue placement: Pronouncing sentences with the tongue held down or stuck between teeth can simulate the spots where slurs might occur.

Variation in Drunkenness Portrayal

Not all drunk characters need to exhibit slurred speech. Some writers maximize visual slurs while others prefer richer descriptive surrounds:

    • Physical and situational indicators: A character stumbling or needing help to stand upright, fumbling words or changing topics can all indicate impairment.
    • Expressions and dialogues: Drunk characters could show their inebriation through their dialogue using slang words or casual language. They might also lose control over their secrecy, revealing secrets or behaving inappropriately.
    • Speech Patterns: Repetitive words or odd phrasing can subtly hint at the character’s drunkenness.
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Relaying Drunken Physicality

How inebriation impacts a character physically is highly indicative of their drunken state. The portrayal can range from pronounced instances like falling or laughing loudly, to more subtle ones like drumming fingers or a slightly-parted mouth.

Highlighting Character Disposition

Alcohol influences often bring out a character’s true nature making them behave drastically different from their sober selves. Consider these elements depending on your story’s setting and plot.

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Writing slurred speech in characters can be complicated yet rewarding. It not only involves a careful manipulation of words and sounds but also requires a deep understanding of your characters’ psychology. The key would be a balance of pronunciation, behavior, and situation to effectively depict drunkenness while maintaining readability.

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