Apr 25, 2012

A to Z - Voice

One of the most important things about writing is voice.  I would argue that many people will forgive all sorts of flaws in a story if the voice is just right.

Think about the stories that you love - why?  What is it that makes you love them?  I would argue that even though some may say the characters or the plot, it really is the voice - what the author gives the character to say in just the right way.

Capturing the voice in writing can be tricky, because it can often sound like the person talking. We have to take the time to really think about our characters - how old are they?  Where do they live?  What has life been like?  What do they do and what do they want and how is this communicated?

One of the best ways to get a feel for voice is to eavesdrop.  Yup, on as many people as possible.  Listen to teens (most don't talk in text), adults, people from different countries with accents, married couples, newly in love couples (nope, they aren't always the same unfortunately), sophisticated - EVERYTHING - because that is how real people talk.  And the most essential part of creating a character is making them real.

How have you found helps you identify voice?  What do you do to make sure characters don't fall into the trap of all sounding the same?



14 comments :

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I really know my characters well, and I'm constantly asking if they were really say that word or think that way. It works. I channel who they are in my writing.

Kyra Lennon said...

I feel like all my characters sound the same, but since doing the A-Z challenge, I have had lots of compliments about the voices I use, and that makes me happy! :D

Cortney Pearson said...

It completely depends on the character for me, but I think internal thoughts and reactions really help with voice.

elizabeth seckman said...

My kids call it staring; I call it people watching.

Danielle B. said...

I have really great voices for my favorites but horrible voices for the "backdrop" characters. I struggle with that.

Lynn Proctor said...

i guess it helps,if they are at least loosely based on someone you know pretty well

Cassie Mae said...

When I first started writing I used the thesaurus so much because I wanted to use words that sounded educated, sophisticated, and words I would probably never use in real life. I thought that's how good writers were made.

Yes, you may shake your head...

It wasn't until book 2 when I was writing a 14 year old kid that I realized, you know, this kid wouldn't think or say this because I don't even know what it means.

Carrie-Anne said...

After working with my characters for so many years (my first Atlantic City people for 20 years now and my Russian characters for 19), I've really grown to know them well, and how to give each his or her own unique voice. I wasn't very good at making people sound unique or realistic in my very early days as a serious writer, and seemed to be relying on some clichéd idea of how young characters "should" talk, but now I think I've got things well-covered. Each character has a unique personality, depending on what kind of person s/he is.

DL Hammons said...

It's no surprise that this is the fourth post on VOICE that I've run across today...such an important subject. And each and every post was different, unique, like the authors voice. I feel its important to find your own voice, and not mimic someone elses. You could come off sounding like a cheap imitation if you do. :)

Simon Kewin said...

Sometimes the voice is just there and you can let it speak, which is lovely. Other times it emerges slowly, I find, and you have to coax it into the light...

Annalisa Crawford said...

I mostly write in first person, which can change the way other characters are presented. Well, that's what I hope, anyway.

Bethie said...

I love to eavesdrop in on conversations. It does help when you're creating unique characters

Leigh Covington said...

Oh heck! If I knew the answers to this, I'd be so much further along! lol.

Naw... one of the things I'm learning is to KNOW each of my characters and what makes them different. I think this helps their own voice stand out from the others.

Nicole said...

I like to think my characters each have their own distinct voices...it's easier to tell for sure during editing though, than on the first draft. :)