Writing the inarticulate character

Okay, so for me, writing inarticulate characters is some of the most fun I have as a writer. The only thing more fun than writing an inarticulate character, is writing several at once, but then things get hard to understand for the reader. 

By inarticulate, I mean characters with absolutely no poetry in their souls. They don't care. They don't read. They just blargh everything out there. 


This was a great week for blargh moments in P+FD:

He totally laughing at her.

"Stuff" is a blargh word. Also, "thing," if used properly. "Thingie" is always blargh.

Asuka is never blargh. Ever.

One of the things that makes P+FD so much fun to write is how differently Chirikai and Asuka speak. While Asuka is a princess who grew up surrounded by books and eloquent speakers, Chirikai is demon who just doesn't care.

It's not that Chirikai is necessarily inarticulate; he is one of those people who hates mapping topics in his conversation. He jumps haphazardly, details things poorly, and expects those around him to keep up. When he doesn't want to talk about something, he just changes the topic. When he doesn't want to describe something, he says blarghs.

Dialogue-wise, Chirikai is the ancient version β€” sans swearing β€” of a character I worked on for Mabel's City.

Long time no see, Lawrence. 

An eco-activist with a prophetic dreams habit, Lawrence swore and crashed his way through Mabel's City as he tried to figure out where he came from β€” he fell naked into a prophetic fire at seventeen with no memories β€” and destroy the magicians who tried to enslave him and locked him in a basement. (Lawrence can see the wilds of the future and an alternate universe.)

Rhode Fucking Scholar. 

With "inarticulate" characters like Chirikai and Lawrence, often they're straightforward and incapable of effectively describing complex matters to others (and the reader). But Chirikai and Lawrence, oddly enough, become more articulate when furious.

Right back at ya, buddy. 

Exactly what the Founding Fathers were thinking. 

Chirikai and Lawrence are incredibly different in most respects, but they're both fun to write in that their emotions are pumped to the nth degree; they're both men of action. Chirikai can seduce and charm, but ultimately, the enemy for him is Truth, which he avoids in others and himself. Lawrence is the opposite; charmless and looked down upon by the seductive vampires, he craves Truth above all things. Not the fragile, prophetic truth concerning the future, which comes naturally to him, but the hard reality of where he came from and how he can survive from day to day. Unlike Chirikai, Lawrence knows himself (as much as a man with few memories can anyway).

You could say that Chirikai is inarticulate because he avoids the Truth, while Lawrence is inarticulate because he's angry almost all the time.


Then there's the boring, obvious reason. Being inarticulate comes from reading articulate and poetic books and speaking with people that share literacy. Chirikai is about sex and fighting. He even teases Asuka's reading:

I call him "seductive," but then I read what I write and I don't really know why. 

Lawrence reads about zoology.

He's like a swearing Captain Planet.

Neither has reason to be articulate given their backgrounds.

Which is the important thing to keep in mind with dialogue. Having blargh characters also adds some great variety. Kouji and Asuka's dialogue, while different, isn't nearly as polarized as Chirikai and Asuka, which means that the princess and the fox demon clash on the page in many different ways.

I've written an essay. I'm so done here.