1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Can you make a recommendation for a study of voice?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Justin Rocket 2, May 16, 2016.

    I'm looking for a good resource text on mastering character voice. I've got many young adults in my WIP and I want all of their voices to be distinctive such that just reading their dialogue gives the reader a pretty good chance of determining who is speaking.
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Taking an acting class. I've been acting since high school and I think it's one of the biggest reasons no one ever faults my dialogue (either that or they're just too kind to poo all over it).
     
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  3. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    That's not really an option for me. I have read Michael Shurtleff's "Audition" and Stanislavsky's "An Actor Prepares." Both of them were helpful, but insufficient.
     
  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) Go to the Word Mechanics subforum to learn the specific rules of proper grammar/syntax

    2) Decide which rules each character will break and which rules each character will follow ;)

    In my Doctor Who fanfic, I have one character doesn't use relative pronouns but a bunch of other characters who do. "Consistent" is more important than "Correct".

    Also, character templates are rather controversial on this site, but I've found that MyersBriggs and D&D Alignment can be extremely helpful:

    Introvert: generally only talks with specific people and/or about specific things
    Extravert: generally comfortable talking with anybody about anything

    Intuitor: generally talks about abstract principles
    Sensor: generally talks about practical realities

    Thinker: generally talks bluntly and matter-of-factly
    Feeler: generally talks sensitively

    Perceiver: generally bounces from one conversation point to another
    Judger: generally wants to finish discussing a conversation point before starting another one

    Lawful: generally talks about what s/he has to do
    Chaotic: generally talks about what s/he wants to do

    Good: generally talks about what's good for everybody
    Evil: generally talks about what's good for their loved ones specifically (or just themselves if they don't have any)​
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
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  5. Sack-a-Doo!
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    I wasn't suggesting books, but rather an actual live class. Sorry if that's not something you can do, but it would be the most helpful for what you're trying to achieve.

    If I think of any books that would help, I'll drop another reply into this thread. I just can't think of any because acting is one of those things that needs to be experienced first hand.
     
  6. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    No doubt, but I have a physical disability which prevents me.
     
  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    There are quite a few disabled actors out there and some are even making a living at it. If you simply can't get out to get to a class, though, then that's different.

    So, if that's the case, here's a list from Google. The search was "character voice" and I got quite a few promising-looking hits. Hope it helps.
     
  8. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I knew there are quite a few disabled actors out there (RJ Mitte comes to mind, for example). But, there are all kinds of disabilities. In my case, I can't stay on my feet for more than 10 minutes, nor on my ass for more than about 30. Recliners and couches where I can sprawl (so that my spine isn't directly above my pelvis help.

    After I made the mistake of giving Dramatica far too much of my time, I've come to take a very dim view of most Internet resources. I just don't trust my ability to figure out, quickly, if a given Internet resource is trash. I've always seemed to get good guidance here, though.
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sorry I can't give you a more detailed answer, then. My understanding of character voice comes from a lifetime of acting, writing, studying psychology and just getting out there in public and listening. If you can't leave the house, I'm stumped as to what to tell you. I truly am sorry I can't be of more help. I do know that watching TV and movies will only give you another writer's interpretation of character voice, but I'm sure that's no help at all.
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say focus on the KINDS of things each individual character would say. This means you must know your characters inside out. Make sure you can 'hear' them clearly in your own head.

    A kindhearted person will say things differently from one who doesn't give a rip about offending people.

    A shy person is unlikely to hog a conversation, and maybe they only speak when asked a direct question—and then they'll do it reluctantly with as few words as possible. A confident person will initiate conversations, or be quick to respond to one initiated by somebody else.

    A know-it-all will have an answer for everything.

    Your character might be the kind who waits for others to screw up before they step in with the correct answer, or they may be the kind who trumpets their own virtues or opinions without being asked.

    Bullies use threats—either overt or thinly-veiled to get their way. Manipulative people (either for good or for selfish reasons) get people to do what they want by either playing to insecurities or offering rewards.

    Authoritative people usually speak in ways that makes everybody else shut up and listen.

    Some people want to argue every point. Others want to consider alternatives before making up their minds. Some people are bold. Some people are cautious. Some are bold about some things and cautious about others.

    Some people always try to lighten a conversation, either by making jokes or being diplomatic. This can either annoy or soothe the other people in the conversation. Some will have great senses of humour (the kind that appreciates humour in others) while some people just don't see the funny side of things most of the time. Some people are easily offended. Some people remain calm and rational no matter what is said to them by others, and never get drawn into angry exchanges. Some people like to tease. Some people like to tease but hate BEING teased.

    All dialogue in the real world is accompanied by actions, facial expressions as well. Even if it happens over a telephone, there will be moments of hesitancy, change of volume or forcefulness. Not to mention speed of speech, slowness of reaction to speech. All these things are tools the writers can employ to create 'voice.'

    I maintain very strongly that there is no shortcut to this process. You MUST understand your characters and what happens underneath a superficial conversation. Just assigning them speech quirks isn't enough to create voice.

    Why not think about it this way : All members of the same nuclear family from the same ethnic background are likely to have the same accent. So how would you differentiate between them if you were writing about them? How would the mother sound different from the father? Or from the aunts and uncles? How would the kids sound different from their parents AND FROM EACH OTHER? In other words, just using teenage slang won't do the trick. You've got to understand their personalities and the dynamics between them to give them each a voice.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
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