IMG_20170730_172229 Distinguishing authentic voices
The character voices can be distinguished by:
Diction: a style of speaking (formal, casual, masculine, repetitive, etc.)
Dialect: a speech pattern shared by members of a particular region or community
Idiolect: the particular speech pattern of an individual
"Hook and eyepatch" dialogue: distinguishing a character through heavy dialect, verbal tics, or catchphrases. The latter can be effective -- as long as your intention is to create a caricature or a stereotype.
An example of the latter could be: "I'm Yosemite Sam...The meanest, toughest, rip-roaringest, Edward Everett Horton-est hombre whatever packed a six shooter!"
This is a slide from a writers' workshop Arianne "Tex" Thompson gave in Austin in July of 2017, titled "The Plate Tectonics Theory of Dialogue". It looked at dialogue through the metaphor of plate tectonics: your characters are constantly in motion, constantly changing. They clash, collide, fold, buckle, shift. Good dialogue expresses all that.
In the workshop we examined two pieces of dialogue from the television show "The Wire", both about 2 pages long. "Tex" Thompson praises this show for very good dialogue. We examined how the dialogue in those scenes serves to add depth to the characterization and to move the story forward.
This is a second workshop by Tex Thompson that I have been to. The first one was the "Escape from Clichea" fantasy worldbuilding workshop that Tex Thompson gave at ArmadilloCon 2016 (a local science fiction convention). I found it very helpful, entertaining, and full of practical, doable advice. Here is my blog post on Tex Thompson fantasy worldbuilding workshop.