Finding the Right Words

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Finding the Right Words

#1 Post by Westeford » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:25 pm

So you know those scenes in fiction which are usually between 2, but sometimes more characters. Usually one is at a low point while the other offers encouragement. (Sounds lamer when describing it.) These scenes basically boil down to "Have confidence", "You're not alone", or "be brave."
My problem is finding the right words for these sensitive scenes. The scenes either becomes "You think you're sad, I've been through worse." or "That's dumb, you should stop that."

So yeah, basically I'm asking what you guys do to find the right words for a scene.

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Re: Finding the Right Words

#2 Post by JayleeJames » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:08 am

I think about a time when I experienced something similar, and what people in my life said that actually helped... then I low-key steal my friends/family's encouraging words and put them into my writing. ^_^;
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Re: Finding the Right Words

#3 Post by Mutive » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:59 am

The right words are heavily dependent upon the characters (both the one speaking and the one doing the encouraging).

A strong silent type is unlikely to give a big speech about being brave. More likely he or she will just say, "You got this." Or "that's tough" or not say anything at all and just put a hand on the protagonist's shoulder.

A more verbose character might go on and on and on about how the protagonist is great and did a great job the last time they faced something like this, and didn't they remember this and that and cheer up, we'll have a big party when it's over and won't everything be great then? Or they might go on and on about how their mother was sick with the same thing and beat the problem and felt fine not long ago, then become flustered and embarrassed because they weren't listening when they know they should have been.

A problem solver may try to solve the problem. An introverted feeler may ask the protagonist to share how they're feeling.

There isn't one answer. The right one is the one that makes sense for your characters. (Which I know isn't much of an answer, but...)
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Re: Finding the Right Words

#4 Post by Katy133 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:00 pm

Looking up motivational speeches and motivational speakers would be a way of inspiring you. Keep in mind the type of character whom you're writing for, as that will affect how they word their pep-talk. Are they comedic? Socially-awkward? Stoic or emotionally-constipated? Some characters will have more difficultly talking from their heart than others.

I'll list some quick examples off the top of my head.

Here's a speech actor Jim Carrey gave to a graduation class. It has him uses personal anecdotes (he talks about his father), analogy (he compares his life to driving), comedy (we know Jim Carrey as a comedian), and a mission statement ("The purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern"). He explains the consequences of not following your dreams ("You can [still] fail at what you don't want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."). He exposes his own flaws and blind spots ("And when I say, 'Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you,' I really don't know if that's true. I'm just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial."). Also consider the music and imagery used in the video (visual novels use audio and visuals as well as text).

Mike Falzone is a musician who regularly makes videos on life advice. Here is one he made on putting your art out into the world. Here, he also uses comedy (like Jim Carrey, Mike Falzone has a background in stand-up comedy), and he also downplays the fears that the other person has. ("What if I put myself out there and nothing happens?" His answer: "Well, then your life is exactly the same as it is right now. How is it right now?"), explains the consequences ("I can't think of anything scarier than [...] realising that I hand the chance to do something and I didn't do it."), gives a mission statement ("If you have any talent at all, I guarantee its purpose isn't NOT to be used.").

Here is a fictional example from the film The Adventures of Tintin The Secret of the Unicorn. The context is that Tintin (the boy reporter who never gives up) decides to give up on stopping the villain and Captain Haddock (who, before hand, was the one saying things like "you'll never make it in time.") give Tintin a speech to convince him to keep going.

Let's look at the list:
  • Personal anecdote: "There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure..."
  • Analogy: "You hit a wall, you push through it."
  • Comedy: In the end of the speech, Haddock doesn't realise he's accidentally caused Tintin to come up with a new plan using "signals."
  • Mission statement: "You care about something, you fight for it."
  • Downplay the fears: "There's something you need to know about defeat. You can never let it defeat you."
  • Explain the consequence of not trying: "You send the wrong signal, THAT'S what people pick up."
  • Expose the Speaker's weak spot: Haddock prior to this has been betrayed and pushed around by other characters and you can see it in his acting that he's thinking about those moments.
  • You can also use the relationship between the two characters: These two have been through thick and thin, and Haddock knows that Tintin is an optimist at heart.

Good Omens is a novel and an upcoming series about an angel and a demon who like each other and the Earth so much that they team up to stop Armegeddon. The teaser trailer for the series adaptation basically includes part of the speech Crowley (the demon) gives Aziraphale (the angel) to convince him to team up with him to save the world. Look at how Crowley convinces Aziraphale:

The List of Motivational Speeches:
  • Personal anecdote: In the book, Crowley brings up that he knows the world can be saved if the antichrist is brought up to be neither good nor evil. Crowley knows this because he (Crowley) used to be an angel and became a demon because he "hung around the wrong crowd." He tells Aziraphale, "So all you've got to do is thwart. Because if I know anything, it's that the birth is just the start. It's the upbringing that's important. It's the Influences. Otherwise the child will never learn to use its powers."
  • Analogy: In the novel, Crowley give a long, drunken story about a bird flying to the end of the universe to sharpen its beak (a reference to The Shepard's Boy fairytale) and using it as a metaphor for how long an eternity in Heaven or Hell would be like.
  • Comedy: "I don't even LIKE you!"/"You do!" (The camera cuts to them being together throughout the centuries.)
  • Mission statement: "We have to work together."
  • Downplay the fears: Crowley has to convince Aziraphale that going against Heaven and Hell is not impossible. In the novel, Crowley says, "Anyway, why're we talking about this good and evil? They're just names for sides. We know that."
  • Explain the consequence of not trying: "No more fascinating little restaurants where they know you. No more old bookshops." / "It's the End of the World we're talking about!"
  • Expose the Speaker's weak spot: "I don't even LIKE you!"
  • The relationship between the two characters: "How long have we been friends? Six thousand years!" Crowley knows Aziraphale is selfish, so Crowley lists things on Earth that Aziraphale will miss if the world ends. "Not more old bookshops."

The anime Mob Psycho 100 has a scene the con artist character Reigen asks Mob if he knows that he's a fake psychic and has no supernatural powers. (spoilers)
Mob reveals that not only does he know, but he knew from the very beginning,
and has decided to stay with Reigen because he knows that Reigen is a good person and a kind mentor.

Because Mob is a very, very quiet character, his talk can hardly be considered a speech at all. Just a few short words. Yet a lot of fans of the series have described this scene as a highlight of the series.

Spoilers in the video:

For more examples of fictional pep-talks, see the TV Tropes articles, Rousing Speech, Rousing Speech Quotes, The Reason You Suck Speech (for when a character gives a tough-love type of speech), Motivational Lie (when the speech is well-intentioned but a untruthful), and the Motivation Index.

To sum up, you can use personal anecdotes, analogies, comedy, a mission statement, downplay the fears, explain the consequence of not trying, expose the speaker's weak spot, and use the relationship between the two characters to help write a pep-talk between them.

Hope this helps!

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