One of the most fun and challenging aspects of writing drunkenness is creating believable and memorable drunk characters or even your main character. Whether your story takes place at a wild party or in the midst of a liquor store siege, your drunk characters need to be realistic and engaging. Here are some tips to help you create great drunk characters time after time.
Keep It Real
When writing a drunken character, it’s important to have a sense of realism. Drunk characters should be believable and understandable, not exaggerated or caricatured.
To stay realistic when writing a drunk character, you should first think about the behaviors and traits that are usually associated with drunkenness.
For example, you might think about the common signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, staggering or stumbling, or an inability to concentrate or keep still. You should also consider factors such as the frequency and amount of alcohol consumption, as well as the effects of alcohol on different body types and age groups.
Another important aspect of the truthfulness of your text is a realistic dialog for drunk people. Try to avoid sounding too exaggerated or comical by incorporating authentic speech patterns into descriptions of your character’s interactions with others. You should also look into the particular speech patterns associated with drunkenness to add even more authenticity and believability to your portrayals.
Ultimately, writing a drunk character requires careful thought and attention to detail. By following these tips, you can create vivid portrayals of drunk people that capture the true essence of what it means to be drunk.
- Use your own experience. Most of us have been drunk at one time or another. If you aren’t a drinker yourself, you probably know at least one person who gets drunk from time to time and can observe them. Take advantage of the free research available to you! The advantage of doing this is that you can write from your personal knowledge and experience, which adds authenticity to the story and adds additional details that you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
- Don’t be limited by your own experiences. That’s just a base; don’t be afraid to go beyond what you already know. Is there one type of drunkenness that’s more interesting than another? Are there certain feelings that come up with your character? Have they ever gotten so drunk that they forgot all about the previous night? Is it possible for them to blackout without drinking alcohol too much?
Note: Alcohol affects everyone differently, depending on their weight, height, gender, genetics, how much they’ve eaten recently, and many other factors.
Even if two people had the same stature and drank the same amount of alcohol every time they went out partying, their reactions would differ from night to night depending on how much they slept, if they just caught something, or if they just had a fight with their boss.
Be In Control
When writing a drunk character, it’s important that as the writer you maintain control of the situation. As with any other character, you should think about your drunk character’s personality and how she’d behave in different situations.
What’re her strengths and weaknesses? How does she handle stress? Answering these questions will help you better understand how your character will react when drunk.
It’s also important to remember that being drunk doesn’t necessarily mean your character will behave inappropriately. She may be more inclined to do so, but she may also be more inhibited than usual. Pay close attention to how your character is supposed to act, and make sure her actions are consistent with her personality.
If you’re not careful, you can easily lose control of a drunk character and have her do things that don’t make sense.
Finally, you should keep in mind that drunkenness isn’t only a physical state, but also a mental one. Your character may slur her words and stumble around, but if her mind is still clear, she can think and act relatively normally. This can be a difficult balance to strike, but it’s important to remember that not all drunk characters are completely out of control.
Remember that you have the power here. It’s not the other way around! Show restraint. Don’t let your character drink so much that he or she becomes a caricature. If you do, readers will laugh at your characters – not with them – and may think less of them than they need to.
If your character is drunk, keep it reasonably realistic: show how their behavior changes when intoxicated, but keep the behavior recognizable (within reason) even when sober.
Your character could be more aggressive, angrier, louder than usual; she could also be depressed, tearful (see below), even more articulate than usual (or less articulate), clumsier than usual … the list goes on! You know your character best, so use that knowledge to make this moment memorable for readers without making them feel like they’ve stepped into a completely different story.
When writing a drunk character, the key to consistency is to consider how his state of intoxication affects his behavior and decisions. In general, people tend to lose their inhibitions when they’re under the influence of alcohol. This can manifest itself in different ways: They make bolder decisions, say things they wouldn’t otherwise say, become overly flirtatious, or engage in riskier behaviors.
It’s important for writers to take these changes into account when designing the actions and dialog of a drunk character, or the drunk scene overall.
A quick way to do this is to imagine how you’d behave in a particular situation if you were under the influence of alcohol. For example, would you feel more confident speaking up for yourself at work if you’d had a few drinks?
Or would you be more willing to try something new and risky, like skydiving or going to an offbeat underground party? Asking yourself these questions will make it easier for you to get an authentic picture of what it’s like to be drunk.
Also, it’s important to consider how long your character has been drinking and what type of alcohol she consumes. If she’s only had one drink, she may not be intoxicated at all.
When you write your character’s dialog, you should always use the same intoxication. This means that you use consistent language for slurring and consistent behavior for stumbling.
For example, if he slurs in one line of dialog, you need to make sure he still does it when he speaks again later in the scene. If she starts to stumble on the way to the car, you need to make sure she continues to stumble or fall as the scene progresses. By maintaining your character’s “drunkenness” throughout your story, you create a realistic portrayal that makes it easier for readers to suspend their disbelief and connect with characters on a more personal level.
In addition to consistency between lines within a scene, keep in mind that your character’s behavior may change depending on where she’s and whether she’s alone or with others.
- Perhaps she’s a lower tolerance when drinking alone at home, and is more relaxed when drinking with friends at a party?
- Or perhaps there’s an unwritten rule among colleagues that everyone pretends not to notice when one of them has had too much to drink at an office event?
Pay attention to how the environment affects behavior so you can maintain consistency for each location or situation and give us further insight into your characters’ personalities – even (or especially) when they’re drunk!
Physicality Is Key
When writing a drunk character, physicality is one of the most important aspects to focus on. The way a person moves and behaves when they’re drunk tells us a lot about their state of mind, their internal struggles, and even their past experiences with alcohol.
To write a convincing drunk character, you need to know exactly how the physicality differs depending on the state of intoxication.
In the early stages of drunkenness, a person often begins to sway or sway while walking. The movements may be exaggerated or jerky as they try to stay upright. Their speech may also become slurred or repetitive as they try to form coherent thought patterns while stumbling and unsteady. It’s also common for people in this state of intoxication to slur their words or speaks randomly without making a logical connection between thoughts. Often these behaviors are influenced by underlying psychological issues that may also be present in the person, such as low self-esteem or unresolved trauma from childhood abuse.
As the intoxication progresses, the physical movements of a drunken person become more uncontrolled and chaotic. At this point, many people begin to lash out verbally or physically at everything around them – kicking furniture, knocking things over, fighting with other intoxicated people, and lashing out at bystanders in embarrassment or frustration.
There’s a difference between writing a character who’s had a few drinks and writing a character who’s actually witnessed the intoxication. The fine line between the two is one of the most difficult aspects of writing drunk characters.
Since alcohol affects everyone differently, you should use these symptoms as a general guideline, but you can play with them to make your character unique.
Drunk characters are often:
- Slower to respond to events, conversations, or instructions
- Uncoordinated or clumsy (which can also be used for comedic effect)
- Confused or muddled (especially when it comes to interpreting speech)
Dialogue Is Your Friend
If you’re writing a drunk character, dialogue is your friend. Drunk characters often have a unique way of speaking that’s difficult to reproduce on the page. By taking advantage of this unique way of communicating through dialog, you can effectively express your drunk character’s personality and emotions.
One important point to keep in mind when writing drunk dialogue is that it should be different from your own speech patterns and from the speech patterns of sober characters.
While many people struggle with monotone or overly formal language when drunk, others may slip into a colorful or joking style of speech. It’s also important to pay attention to how drunk your character is: someone who’s had a few drinks at dinner might be talkative and boisterous, while someone who’s been drinking all night might speak in an almost unintelligible mumble.
Also, when writing dialog, pay attention to the means you use to make the intoxication clear – slurred speech, misplaced words, or grammatical errors can be a good way to create an authentic-sounding drunk character.
If you understand how dialog affects your drunk character’s perception, you can use it as a tool to appeal to their emotions and create a sense of connection between reader and character.
Alcohol loosens inhibitions and makes people more honest. So you can use your characters’ sentences to make them likable and help the audience identify with them – even when they’re drunk.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Alcohol can make people more aggressive and argumentative, so don’t be afraid to let them say things when drunk that they mightn’t say when sober. That doesn’t mean alcohol should give your characters permission to be rude or violent, but it does mean you don’t have to avoid potentially controversial topics.
People who’re drunk sometimes talk slurred, but not always. Make sure the dialog is realistic in this regard. It’s best to imagine a drunk friend talking and writing down what he or she sounds like (maybe leave out the burps and hiccups).
Some Situations and Prompts to Use
- Drunk driving
- Drunk text
- Drunken dialogue
- Drunken physicality
- Happy drunk
- Angry drunk
- Alcohol abuse
Don’t Forget the Hangover
It’s all too easy to forget the hangover when writing a drunken character. After all, you’ve never been hungover yourself, have you? WRONG. Anyone who’s ever had a hangover will tell you that it’s very possible to forget the hangover when writing a drunk character.
Here are a few things to remember:
- The hangover doesn’t start when you’re sober. It starts when you’re still drunk. This means that your character feels the effects of the alcohol long before he sobers up.
- A hangover is more than just a headache. It means nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and a general feeling of being unwell.
- A hangover can last for hours or even days. So if you’re writing a hungover character, make sure she feels the effects long after she’s sobered up.
Alcohol has a diuretic effect, and when you drink, your body loses water faster, which can cause dehydration. Dehydration causes headaches and dizziness because there’s not enough blood flow to the brain.
In addition to dehydration, alcohol depletes your immune system and increases the production of stomach acid in your intestines – leading to nausea and gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea the next day.
Alcohol also disrupts sleep patterns: its depressant effects make you drowsy shortly after consumption, but make it harder to fall into a deep sleep later.
There are some popular hangover remedies to mention in your work – such as drinking more alcohol, Gatorade or Pedialyte for hydration, ibuprofen for pain relief, greasy food for an upset stomach, and sleeping in – all of which are common ways to deal with a hangover.
A hangover is a great tool for writers who want their characters’ drunken behavior to have consequences and leave them vulnerable when sober. The hangover can be funny or tragic, depending on how you’ve written the character up to this point. And even if they have a really bad headache, nausea, or diarrhea, most people still manage to get up early enough to not be late for work or school!
Heavy drinking may impair judgment at first, but it doesn’t stop our characters from getting up at the right time (unless you write that they’re so hungover they just can’t function). If anything, it just makes them slower than usual because they only slept two hours last night and then woke up twice with racing thoughts about the homework due tomorrow (or maybe about how bad they smell because they used so much nail polish remover).
If you keep these things in mind, you can write hungover characters who feel real and believable and who haven’t forgotten the hangover!