I use verbal tics in my fiction. These are little tells that can reveal background, character, or even eliminate the need for a dialog tag.
These tics are never part of my main character, at least they never have been. I reserve them for supporting characters. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
In Wild Concept, Lisa makes friends with a tattoo artist/biker dude. He tends to replace the words ‘has’ or ‘have’ with ‘gots.’ He might say, “We gots to go to the Sheriff’s auction tomorrow.”
This reveals a bit about his upbringing, and possibly about his education. When he drops a line like that, I really don’t need a dialog tag after I’ve set the stage.
I used a cast of thousands in The Cock of the South. (Okay hundreds, but it sounds so Cecil B. Demille I had to use it.) As a way of making a supporting character stand out, I gave him a verbal tic. Roald the dwarf comes from a different part of Europe than the rest of the cast. I chose to introduce his Swedish accent in dialect, but drop it for ease of reading. Therefore, he winds up ending a lot of sentences with “by golly.” He might say, “We can’t leave until we get them cows milked, by golly.”
I think it’s a fair way of reminding readers that Roald isn’t from around these parts.
I’ve done it again, by golly. (Sorry) In my new project there is a character named Wally who is a computer whiz. He tends to end most of his comments with ‘yeah’ in a questioning fashion. It might look something like this, “We’re going to the Sheriff’s auction, yeah?”
It gives me the impression that he’s looking for approval, and adds a bit of character to his section at the same time.
So how about it? Does anyone else use verbal tics when they write dialog? I’ve never done it with more than one character at a time, because it could get annoying. If you don’t use them, would you ever? Why or why not?