I pride myself to some small degree on my ability to write dialogue.
I don’t think I’m an expert, I’m pretty certain I will never win any awards, but I have been told repeatedly that the dialogue I write for my characters is believable and interesting. That’s a gold medal right there for me.
This weekend, however, I had to write dialogue to be actually spoken aloud… by me. My best friend married on Saturday, here in the UK, and I had the absolute honor of being the best man.
I’m married myself and seeing as this is my writing blog, I have no shortage of ways to tie marriage and wedding days to writing and creativity.
Be it the preparation of party favors and decor for the venue, the writing of place settings or the order of service, writing, and personalization are a huge facet of most marriage days. I remember the weeks of effort I went through organizing the personal touches for my own big day.
Outside of the wedding party, there is also the writing going on in the background. Registrars, Priests and even law markers and clerks are beavering away with pens for the right words, and of course binding words.
Weddings are entirely reliant on writing, and thus everyone wants it to be good writing.
Part of the personalization of such an important day comes with the speeches. It is the chance of those closest to the happy couple to put into words what matters most and to bring together two families of strangers with a few short stories.
They are important, which is why so many of us totally fear them and spend months working on them. It’s why we get nerves when we stand up to talk and want it to be perfect.
Having been offered the chance to be a groomsman for a day (something I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to do again), I was naturally terrified to be looking down the long barrel of the best man’s speech.
In my favor, my past with the groom goes back to our teen years and we’ve had more than our fair share of adventures. Everything from driving up mountains in Australia to tornados in Virginia USA the night before my wedding. A ton of things to talk about, stories galore, material for days, and I was determined I would keep it short and sweet.
But it had to be right. And that was where it got tough.
Turning Writing into Speech
Admittedly, I’m pretty pleased with what I pulled together. Like with most of my writing, I spent a week thinking about it before I wrote anything down, then I wrote way too much so I could cherry pick the best bits, then make sure they were linked together as best as possible.
I read it inside my head every night as I laid down to sleep until I knew it by heart.
Then I printed it out any way to read from because I know what I’m like.
Had I been in my own home, reading aloud to myself the dialogue between two of my characters like a crazy person, I’d have been fine and my voice steady. Instead, I had one set of words to read aloud, in front of 37 odd people about my best friend. Most of them I had never met before in my life, to boot… so maybe it was a good thing I broke my glasses that morning and couldn’t see properly.
Writing turned into trembling the moment I stood up, not for speaking aloud, but for the fact, the words mattered. Years of projecting my voice as a teacher meant I sounded clear and (pretty) confident, right up until the end, but it’s a good thing I had the script with me.
I did stumble on the last line though. It was the big one, with meaning mostly between me and the groom. The emotions showed up, and that was it, I was gone. Thankfully, applause erupted around the room and I got a hug from the groom, so I think I did ok overall.
Best mate & Groom, and a stunning venue
Words matter. It’s why writers write. I love writing dialogue because what we say says so much about who we are… and how we say it, consciously or not, willingly or not, is another sign of character.
I went to the best wedding this weekend past, spent the entire rest of the day talking to anyone and everyone in a beautiful location made new friends and saw my best friend become the happiest man ever on a perfect day.
Hopefully, that makes it ok I lost a line when writing became talking.