Characters can use speech to command other people to do things.

Coach Kimble blew her whistle and said, “All right, ladies. Let’s get on the blocks for the four hundred meter.”

Commands can range in strength from subtle suggestions through to direct instructions.

And the way in which someone gives a command, what they give a command about, and who they give it to, can tell us a lot about the character.

For example, in this snippet, what's the coach doing? Commanding runners to get on the starting blocks. How strong is the command? Is she being clear and direct? Does she expect the runners to obey?

Yes. This is an example of a strong command.

Modality is a useful term to describe different degrees of action: how regularly it happens, how certain it is it will happen, how much someone is obliged to perform the action, and so on. 

We use modality in our conversations all the time.

“Don’t run off with the torch again,” he said. “Please.”

This example is interesting because the "please" is part of the command. Subtle!

I looked at my phone. Carmen. “My place. 7pm. Don’t be late.” She hung up.

Write your own variation of the snippet, with someone giving another person an instruction or command.