From many studies* of how politicians speak, writers like you and me can glean insights into how to write dialog for fictional conservative or liberal characters we create.
Studies show that conservative and liberal politicians speak differently. In general, conservative politicians
- use simpler language than liberal politicians, and
- prefer short statements—simple sentences—expressing one thought.
Liberal politicians, in general,
- use more complex language than conservative politicians, and
- prefer longer, more complex thought structures—compound and complex sentences—expressing qualified thoughts.
How can we use this information?
Suppose you have created a character—let’s call him Mr. Conti—whom you want to portray as a conservative. Maybe he hails from Texas, votes Republican, accepts the teachings of a church which he regularly attends, wonders about global warming, and supports a pro-life organization—all qualities associated with conservative thinking in the US.
Suppose you have also created a character—let’s call her Miss Libby—whom you want to portray as liberal. A native of Boston, perhaps she votes Democrat, has stopped attending church, teaches physics in a high school, and wears a mask everywhere during the covid 10 pandemic—all qualities associated with liberal thinking in the US.
To further differentiate Mr. Conti and Miss Libby, you can use dialog. For example,
Miss Libby: Oh, this heat! I heard on NPR that it might rain later today, but the showers will likely be scattered.
Mr. Conti: Rubbish! My arthritis is aching. It’s gonna rain.
Miss Libby: According to the meteorologists on the Weather Channel, satellite imagery shows a clear though humid atmosphere this morning. Any rain later will be haphazard.
Mr. Conti: Satellite battelite. When my grandma’s bones ached, it rained. When my momma’s bones ached, it rained. My bones ache. It’s gonna rain.
Miss Libby: You demonstrate such confidence, such surety, about the weather, Mr. Conti. Is it innate?
Mr. Conti: Nothin’ innate about it. It’s in bones.
As a writing exercise, try writing dialog between a conservative thinker and a liberal one. Choose a nonpolitical topic and see how you can show political thinking thought vocabulary and sentence structure.
*For more information on the studies, go to a recent article in The New York Times using this hyperlink: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/opinion/liberals-conservatives-trump-america.html