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The Word Has Spoken

Mouth (2)
Creative Commons License photo credit: AlishaV

A little over a month ago, we held auditions for our teaser and demo. We sat at a table on one side of an ample conference room, and watched a parade of talent perform excerpts of scenes we’d written so far for March 32nd. It was a revelation. Presto—character! Voile—story and world!

The destination for dialogue is the mouth that speaks it, and there’s some kind of magical thing that happens when you hear it manifested by a voice. It is, of course, very gratifying to hear it spoken out loud, but it’s also extremely useful in terms of analyzing the work. You can instantly hear if the dialogue is authentic within the context or not. You can get a feeling for continuity and believability of character, or quickly identify where it feels there’s a lack thereof. Even inconsistencies in structure and story often become apparent. How a character speaks and the vocabulary they use can indicate their economic status, their age, their educational level, their mood, among other things. Where a character pauses, what a character ignores, when a character falls silent or interrupts contribute to the authenticity of that character. Dialogue is the most indicative element of character, and character is the root of story. For a narrative-driven game like March 32nd, dialogue is key.

The experience at auditions was so valuable, that we decided to use this kind of method prior to locking our scripts. We sit around the table–the writers–and we divide up the parts. Even though none of us are actors, we can still glean a lot from trying to speak the lines ourselves, and from hearing our colleagues grapple with it.

We’re making our March 32nd demo for PAX right now. In the words of Mary Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein—it’s alive! And I must say, what a magnificent monster it is.

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