How to Write Intelligible, Uh, Utterances in Your Stories

“For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on.” — (Mark Antony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 2)

by geralt
by geralt

Does your character always say, for example, “yes,” “no,” or “let me think”? If he’s a proper sort of character, he might.

However, to add flavor to other types of characters, without overdoing it, sprinkle in some of the following utterances. Keep in mind the age, education, class, historical period, and nationality of your character. Did I say, don’t overdo?

Utterances

 

Some work for multiple purposes. Some have various spellings. This is a sampling.

by geralt
by geralt

Yes: mm-hm, uh-hm, uh-hmm, uh-huh, yeah, yep

Okay: kay, mkay, umkay, OK

No: uh-uh, hmm-mm, hun-uh, mm-mm, nah, nuh-uh, nope

 

by OpenClipartVectors
by OpenClipartVectors

I’m amazed. Ooh, wow, whoa

I’m alarmed. Yikes, whoa

I’m bored, and you’re boring. Ho-hum, yadda yadda, yada yada

I’m choking. Argh, awk, gak

I’m clearing my throat. Ahem, harrumph, Uh-hem

I’m confused. Huh? eh?

I’m disgusted. Bah, ew, harrumph, haw haw, hmpf, sheesh, phooey, tsk ugh, yuck, yucchh

I’m dumb. Duh

I’m exuberant. Wahoo, whee, yay, yeehaw, yee-haw, yippee

I’m enlightened. Ah, a-ha, aha

I’m glad I caught you off guard. Gotcha, Ha!

I’m here. Ahem, ahoy, psst, uh-hem, yoo-hoo

I’m laughing. Ha, ha ha, har har, he-he, yuk yuk

I’m liking this. Mmm, yum

I’m in pain. Aargh, argh, arrgh, ouch, ow, yeow, uggh, oomph

I’m proud of myself. Ta-da, ta-dah, tada, shazam

I’m puzzled. Hm, Huh, Hmm

I’m relieved. Whew, phew

I’m sneezing. Achoo, ah-choo, atchoo

I’m surprised. Oh, ooh, woops, whoops, whoa

I’m touched. Aw, aww

I’m wrong. Oop, oops, oopsy, uh-oh, woops, whoops

 

by Sponchia
by Sponchia

Fillers (Let me think): In real life these words, used for pauses, are about a fifth of words in conversation. In stories, use sparingly. Make sure filler utterances have a purpose. A character:

  • desperately needs time to think
  • is worried about saying the wrong thing
  • is dazed
  • is in an emotional state
  • needs to interrupt what he’s saying and start over.

Examples: ah, eh, er, erm, hm, uh, um. (Words, such as like and well are also often used as fillers.)

Use these utterances, sparingly, to add flavor to your characters. Click to tweet.

What are other utterances you’ve used or seen?

24 Traits to Show How Your Characters Think

“People generally agree that each individual is a unique blend of traits that serve to satisfy basic wants and needs according to one’s moral code.” — Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

by Famend
by Famend

Let’s have fun.

I have Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s writer’s resource, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes. I chose 24 character traits from their list and wrote thoughts the characters with these traits might think.

For each set below, can you match the thoughts of these characters at a party to their traits? My Answers are in the comments.

Match the Thought to the Character Trait

by Openclipartvectors
by Openclipartvectors

 Set 1 

 

Thoughts

 

Traits

A

Jerry’s drinking too much. I’ll ask him to take a look at my car’s starter problem. Get him away from the party.

   1

Innocent

B

I wish Erin wouldn’t praise me for how much I helped her with the party. Lots of people helped.

   2

Ambitious

C

I wish John would stop holding the bungee rope or instructing me. I know how to gear up.

   3

Introvert

D

Man, it’s crowded. Maybe we can leave early. Oh, oh. Here comes chatty Pam. Time to visit the restroom.

   4

Patient

E

Best make sure guests know exactly what they’re supposed to do in Fictionary. Is that lint on my skirt?

   5

Humble

F

Why is Cassie upset? I’m sure John danced with Candy just to be polite.

   6

Diplomatic

G

Forget the chitchat. Let’s see how many more prizes we can win than Anthony.

   7

Meticulous

H

Anthony butted in line. Oh well, let him. I’m in no rush.

   8

Independent

 

by bungeeinternational10
by bungeeinternational10

Set 2

 

Thoughts

 

Traits

I

Jill has goosebumps. I’ll take her sweater to her. And give her my cherry pie recipe. Her nieces will love it.

  9

 Honest

J

I’ll collect cups on the way to the kitchen and store the leftovers in the containers I brought with me.

  10

 Bold

K

I must tell Erin she reimbursed me too much for the shrimp.

  11

 Extroverted

L

Great! They have bungee jumping. I’ve never done that before. Let’s do it.

  12

 Quirky

M

I’ll sing my Fictionary definition. And I’ll add some cha-cha-cha to that dance as boring as a waltz.

  13

 Easygoing

N

We’re here! There’s Jill from my painting class. I want to talk to Cass. Got my ballet flats on. Let’s all dance.

  14

 Organized

O

I bet if I ask, Erin will let us sit at the head of the table.

  15

 Nurturing

P

Whichever event Pam wants to do is OK by me.

  16

 Adventurous

by EVA8-8008
by EVA8-800

 Set 3

 

Thoughts

 

Traits

Q

Meatballs would’ve done as well as the shrimp. No wonder Erin and Ralph are in debt.

   17

 Analytical

R

If Candy comes over, I’ll stay courteous but neutral. I have to fire her, but I’ll do it tactfully on Monday.

   18

 Charming

S

Look. Each person takes one minute in the food line. If we play Fictionary for an hour, we can avoid the line.

   19

 Patriotic

T

Who’s that with Lisa? I don’t recall inviting him. Lisa is vulnerable. I’d better join them.

  20

Professional

U

When Tim moves to the food, I’ll happen to cross his path and ask his advice on IRAs. I’ll touch my lips.

   21

 Protective

V

Beth wore holey jeans to a party? And why’d Tom try to recruit my son? Upholstery is our family business.

  22

 Flirtatious

W

Jerry should live somewhere else if he doesn’t like how things are done in this country.

  23

 Thrifty

X

Let me help Pam with her coat. Great dress Sylvia’s wearing. I’ll tell her. Mark could use one of my jokes.

  24

 Traditional

Thoughts that characters with specific traits would think. Click to tweet.

What might a loyal character think at the party?

4 Resources to Help You Become Awesome at Creating Blog Titles

“Just because you have to be accurate doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your title pop.” — Corey Eridon

by geralt
by geralt

We can improve our reach by spending more time on wording our blog titles. Going a step further: We need to improve the headlines on all online content we write.

narciso1
narciso1

Whether we write how-to or journal type blogs, newsletters, interviews, devotionals, emails, or any other online content, we can reach more people with attention-grabbing titles.

 

 

 

 Would you click on any of these? I’ve seen similar ones online.

by geralt
by geralt

How-to blog: My Thoughts on Writing
Journal blog: Opening Day
Newsletter: My Book Update
Interview: Interview with Drew Smith
Devotional: A Look at Ephesians
Email: Visit My Blog Today

None intrigues me enough to click.

Below are links and descriptions of 4 posts that will help you write awesome blog titles.

I believe their principles carry over for titling other online content. Also, note the bloggers’ titles tell us the benefit of reading their posts.

1.  74 Attention-Grabbing Blog Titles That Actually Work by Larry Kim

http://www.inc.com/larry-kim/74-attention-grabbing-blog-titles-that-actually-work.html

For those who find templates helpful Kim provides 74 in his post. I used #34 for this blog post title. He gives the statistic that 26% of Buzzfeed’s 60,000 top ariticles are “listicles,” e.g. 10 Tips… or 8 Reasons….

2.  10 Sure-Fire Title Formulas That Attract Readers by James Scherer

http://blog.wishpond.com/post/60276168559/10-sure-fire-blog-title-formulas-that-attract-readers

For Scherer’s 10 blog title formulas, he gives real-life examples plus three more examples in his “How you can do it:” sections. Here are a few of the types of blog titles Scherer discusses:

  1. “Cutting-edge information”
  2. “Using phrases like ‘need to know’”
  3. “Creating the curiosity gap”
by Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3.  Tips for Writing Blog Titles that Earn ReTweets by Jasmine Henry

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/tips-writing-blog-titles-earn-retweets

Henry shares a surprising finding that shows a great blog title is important for reasons other than grabbing readers. Many people will retweet links to titles on content they haven’t read.

Henry promotes these blog title characteristics: actionable, brief (70 character limit), clear, emphatic, intriguing, and keyword-oriented. She discusses each and gives examples.

4.  The Dark Science of Naming Your Post: Based on Studying 100 Blogs by Iris Shoor

http://www.startupmoon.com/the-dark-science-of-naming-your-post-based-on-studying-100-blogs/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I found this one through Jasmine Henry’s post. Shoor found in her study on tech related posts that “The post title has a huge impact on the numbers.” She talks about what words and phrases to use. Like the others, she advocates using numbers and goes into more depth in how to use them. Shoor also lists what doesn’t work. A surprise to her, and to me, was that including “you” or “how to” in the title seems to have no viral affect on posts.

Find out what makes a blog title work. Use this info to title all online content. Click to tweet.

What social media title grabbed you?