Informal part one here.
I know that not all of my readers are into Doctor Who, but this minisode makes a great jumping-off point for a new discussion. If you don’t want to you don’t have to watch the whole thing (the important part starts at five minutes and thirty-three seconds in), but it makes more sense if you do.
Notice how the Doctor (yes, that was the Doctor, even if you didn’t recognize him–he’s probably the most obscure one) says “Cas… I apologize.” He says “I apologize” instead of “I’m sorry” like the Tenth Doctor. Not only is this appropriate to his accent, which seems to me (lifelong American and non-expert that I am) to be a little more upper-class and even slightly archaic compared to the Tenth Doctor’s, but it’s also because the connotation is different.
For instance, when the Tenth Doctor would say “I’m sorry,” he was generally apologizing for some harm he’d unintentionally caused, or else he was saying just how sorry he was that he couldn’t save someone.
David Tennant, on the other hand, saying “Sorry” is not actually the saddest thing in the world. It’s just the most adorable thing.
On the other hand, here we have the Eighth Doctor deliberately saying “I apologize.” Notice that he’s apologizing for what he is about to do. However, he isn’t sorry. His voice sounds more rueful, like he’s mourning the passing of a dream. If he feels any sorrow, it’s because the Doctor is dead and he’s about to be forced into a role he never wanted to fill, but he isn’t sorry for what he’s about to do. He’s feeling sorrow that things turn out this way, but he’s not going to back down. This is one of the things that I like most about the Doctor, but it also makes me a little bit afraid of him–his resolve is terrifying at times.
This scene broke my heart, by the way, because I remember how adorable Eight was in the movie–he was such a sweetie!–and now he’s broken down and given up and that just hurt. *pounds on Life in general for being Evil* The way it’s played out, this scene is just so marvelously powerful, not least because of the word choice. Also, kudos to Eight for being the only Doctor to double over rather than arching back during his regeneration.
Before the first rehearsals, actors working on a movie will sit down and read through the script together with the writers, producers, directors, etc. Not only does this show up any remaining grammatical errors, it also allows for any last minute changes to the script that might be necessary to add more depth to the characters. Does one of the lines just not sound right? Think about the character and then re-write it. Voice is extremely important.
Word choice and connotation, pauses and beats, intonation, volume, accent, and even misused words are your tools. You should be able to white out or even mix up the character’s names on a script and still be able to tell who said what. If you give it a decent try, maybe you’ll even be able to hear what each character “sounds” like. For now, forget the movie metaphor and the full sensory sweep. Consider the character’s socioeconomic background, history, the company he or she keeps, and so forth. How do they talk? How do they sound? Are there any misused words?
Can you hear your characters yet?