Friday, October 21, 2011

Question Answered .. and Ikea Furnishings!

I LOVE this caption, probably because I used some of the most amusing dialog I've ever thought up. I honestly had saved the photo because of the items in the background, and specifically the painting on the wall. The caption itself fits in with what I wanted to talk about today.

Let us see if I can answer this formspring question that was submitted months ago it seems. Alectra writes the following:

Can you imply the way someones talks in a cap? if so can you tell us how you do that?. For example: a character that uses broken sentences or talks without breathing(run on sentences)talks with a funny accent.Do you think that's difficult to add on a cap?

There are quite a few different ways to do what you are asking. One though has to deal with content, and the other has to do with formatting.

When it comes to making people speak broken English, as though they have been changed into a different ethic background, you first have to make sure you aren't stepping on too many toes. Stereotypes can be played with, but you have to be careful about going over the top and not being racially insensitive. For me, I usually go WAY over the top, so that no one knows there is any chance I am serious in what I am creating. Also, the protagonist in this caption is pretty much fulfilling what stereotypes HE believes in, so it softens the insensitivity a bit. At least I hope it does!

As I mentioned in a blog posting below, when I was doing the bad spelling/grammar in the Jillisa caption, I started with a correct version of what I wanted to say, then I adapted it from there. Its the same here when trying to figure out how you want the dialog to sound. Knowing how ESL people speak (English as a Second Language) helps when trying to whip up accent. For instance, French people (especially French Canadian) tend to have trouble with plurals. Perhaps an order from Dunkin Donuts might sound like, "I'd like a dozen glazed donut to go. Eet is aboot the best you can get, eh?" Yes, its a tad bit over the top, but most Boston accents aren't quite bad as "Pahk the Cah in Hahvud Yahd" either. After you work on grammar (like plurals, pronoun misusage and word order "throw the baby down the stairs a kiss") you should go through and find words that need to be pronounced differently and make a phonetic adjustment.

When it comes to elements like HOW they are talking, its a matter of how you wish to format and highlight it. For me, the best way to convey it is to adjust the font size and group the the words accordingly.

If it is in broken sentences, I would use the "..." between words and phrases to indicate a pause ("It was ... you .. all along .. wasn't it? I .. should have ... figured it out .. but I ... NO!")

To make a run-on sentence showing a lack of breath, I would probably make the font smaller and either group words into one chunk at a time ("whadoyoumeanIdunnowhatizgoin'on? Shaddupyouboogerhead!") or use many prepositional phrases slammed together without punctuation ("of course I knew what was going on with you and Steve behind the school after football practice while I was getting tutored by Jake for the French assignment I missed cuz my mother's car broke down on that stupid off ramp next to the mall with the really lame mani/pedi salon that does my toenails in friggin' pink like I'm some Hannah Montana watching, Beiber drooling mall rat like Becky! I mean, as if!")

If I can find a caption when I'm at home to illustrate this, I'll edit this post and add it in. If not, I think you hopefully get the idea.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Anything I may have missed, or not quite clarified? I made this post while working, so I'm not sure how well it flows, since it was written in fits and starts over the last 2 hours or so. For those who create captions .. I don't notice as many captioners using dialog as much to show changes that happen in the storyline. Any reason why they, or you if you don't, use it more often?


  1. Heh heh heh that last (BIG!) sentence sounds like a Bimbo telling her friends to come over her place. YES I do know the secret language of OH MY GOD! I know that uhmm stuff okay "giggle" ^-^

    I do tend to use dialogue but I prefer to let the changes flow across the narrative rather than the usual (or not so usual) I'm changing you blah blah blah evil head at home! "giggle"

    So according to what you say you have to take on people's accent and take that to your advantage without... falling into the hateful topics (like frenchies and their "mghd" sound in every word "giggle")

    Thanks Dee that clarifies a lot of stuff I was thinking of when doing caps ^-^

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  2. As you said, I believe most of the time dialogue as a result of change is usually used for board stereotypes (bimbo, child, cultural, etc), than anything else.

    In YOUR case, Dee, I would imagine you would use it more than most because you tend to do more dialogue driven captions. You also often write in first person, so dialog lends itself to that.

    I've noticed many people pretty much want a paragraph or two that isn't much more than the description of change (I call it the "Anne Rice/Stephannie Myer's Effect"). Dialogue is

  3. One more thing: Funny you did this post - I just finished a caption that left me in a bit of a conflict; I was making a caption involving a Voodoo Priestess from Louisiana. I originally wrote some of the dialogue with a thick Creole accent but two things stopped me. 1) The person the caption was for is British and 2) I was going for authenticity and I realized I was going TOO real. I read back thru the first few lines of Dialogue out loud and realized it would have been a pain to read. I cleaned it up and stuck with limited English mistakes to show the difference in language.

  4. I think you did a good job explaining here. I don't often use dialects in my caps. One reason is the more I read how people internationally speak, I find that the way we 'hear' the written word is different. Like the discussion we had on one of the blogs about how we all 'hear' the written laugh (Ha ha, eh eh, Heh Heh, Bwahahaha) differently.

    I've used the 'breathless voice' before, by taking out all spaces. I often will combine that with run on sentences to give the impression of desperation. As if the person speaking believes that so long as he is talking, nothing bad can happen.

    I think one of the issues about using dialog to showcase the transformation (oh dear, look at your breasts growing! Oopsies... there goes your penis.. aww isn't your new pussy cute!?) because I want the person reading the cap to feel that it is happening to him. Sure, I've done a few dialog caps before, but they are really a 'changeup' for me, and not a standard tool. Although that being said, having a dialog driven cap does give the person reading a chance to insert her own emotions into it. They can feel as helpless or as empowered as they want to be.