One of my characters gets drunk and accidentally kills another. He has a couple of lines where he needs to sound obnoxiously, falling-down drunk.

Is there a good way to accomplish this? What sounds should he have trouble pronouncing, and what letters should I replace (like s -> sh)?

  • Might want to read some Pratchett and how he dealt with the lisp that the Igors have... done well enough that when a younger, more modern Igor doesn't lisp it is noticeable.
    – ivanivan
    May 23, 2019 at 13:02
  • I always find these kinds of questions very fascinating because I consume most of my fiction through audio, so kind of miss out on that aspect of the writing. This also leads me to always imagine my writing read out loud.
    – Andrey
    May 23, 2019 at 13:37
  • Hvae you treid tihs tirck of srcamlbing the odrer of the lettres? The barin is souppesd to sitll be albe to raed as lnog as the frsit and lsat lttrees are fxied. Not sure how obnoxious it would be in a novel, though.
    – Eth
    May 23, 2019 at 17:13

2 Answers 2


In most of the books that i have read, which include a drunken character at some point, the person's speech mostly follows these points-

  1. Words which have two or more than two consonants continuously are written as if only one letter is pronounced. Eg: screeched may be written like- skrichd , skichd etc. Sentence usage: the .. car.. car skrichd .. to . halt.

  2. As shown the above sentence, the speech may also involve wrong grammar, or can even miss articles and similar important parts of speech which a regular conscious man has to include in his speech for etiquette. Grammatical errors may include sudden changes in tense of the sentence. Sentence usage: i . . Was to go.. to going . the mark--market .

  3. Words , the pronunciation of which involves the tongue's side touching the teeth, or the tongue touching the roof of the mouth are commonly confused by a drunken man. Basically the 'rh' or 'gh' type sounds. You should pronounce each word yourself and try to pronounce it as if your tongue can't properly contact these above surfaces.

  4. You can also include sudden change of topic, mid speech for a more humorous approach to things!.

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    – linksassin
    May 23, 2019 at 7:00

I have read books where authors deliberately misspelled words to try to describe the character's speaking. However, I personally think that this makes it difficult to read and awkward.

Instead of focusing on how the character mispronounces words, think about the rate at which the person speaks. That's something easier to get across.


"Wha... What am... I..." He stumbled across the floor and flopped onto a chair. "What am..." He closed his eyes as if the words were just too difficult to force out of his own mouth. Finally, mustering together all of his strength, he finally managed to croak out, "I... doing here?"

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