1. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Voice

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Hubardo, Aug 17, 2014.

    I've realized that the few characters I've written from 1st person basically have the same voice. I'm having a hard time figuring out how to write from their voice. Maybe there are some good writing exercises for this. At a loss.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't have any exercises.

    In general, I only write one novel at a time, as I normally write in first person POV.

    The trick is to get into that character's head. See how they see the world, how they respond to it. What's their education and experience--how would they talk/speak and relate to others. Seeing the world from that character's point of view, as opposed to my own...or blended with another character's makes a difference.

    Think how differently a truck driver might respond to coming across a traffic accident as opposed to an English professor. How might they speak to a confused and victim of the crime, with minor scrapes and injuries. How might they respond--actions taken, (if they'd stop even) and what might they say...words they'd use. What skills and knowledge would they bring to the situation that might be different. What would their internal thoughts be? Probably quite different.

    It's the same with first person POV characters in a novel, if that makes sense.

    It can take a while to get into character, writing them, but as you write, you'll get to 'know' them better. You can always go back and revise so you don't have to be perfect right from the start.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Try to find little things to make the characters' POVs different. They don't have to be huge things to make a voice unique.

    My protag talks to herself and is often distracted by interesting things. Her boyfriend is protective like a big brother. They both aren't afraid to take risks that some of the other characters are afraid to try.

    That's where to start.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    No two people see things the same way. It's like going into McDonalds and ordering a Shamrock Shake. You could be thinking yum while you're best friend is going gag, gross how can you drink that. Keep you're characters opinionated - but sharing their opinions in different ways. Tactful, tactless, apologetic etc.
     
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  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Draw from real life. Think about your friends, family, acquaintances, etc. Do they all use the same words/phrases? Do some of them use slang? What about different mannerisms in speech? Ask yourself these types of questions, which should serve as a good starting point.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Chances are, that voice is your own voice, or something very close to it.

    Practice observing other people (people-watching). Also, you might want to practice in third person, to try to get out of your own head for a while.
     
  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is nothing necessarily wrong with characters from different books having similar voices. It is sort of like characters in different movies being played by the same actor. Instead of caring that characters in different books sound different from each other, you should care that each one's voice makes sense in context, as if none of your other books existed.

    Actually, writing each book as if none of your other books existed is a pretty good guideline in general.
     
  8. Kelly St Clair
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    Kelly St Clair New Member

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    I find that the more you know about the character the easier it is to write with their voice. I personally write a list including what they look like, if they are passive or extroverted, religion etc. Another big one is knowing their background, as this is definitely going to determine how they react to other people and different situations.
    Most of the time when I am getting to know a new character I cannot find the voice until I am several chapters in and then it kind of just clicks. I then go back in the second draft and fix up or get rid of the first chapters.
    Try picking three random attributes, such as; 50 years old, ex-circus performer, aggressive and write about this. Then change one attribute and see how it affects your writing. I.e. 50 years old, ex-circus performer, shy.
     
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  9. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks. yeah I discovered character charts shortly after I posted this.
     
  10. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Yep. I had the same problem in first person. I went to the library and got a heap of How To Write Fiction books and found some neat exercises. One of them is to have a one on one conversation with your character at first completely unrelated to the plot. Just some random question as if you were interviewing them. And write the whole thing out. Within a short period of time that character develops their own voice and their character starts to show clearly on the page. You can then transfer that voice into the story.

    I think the problem is that we get so tied up trying to write the plot that it ends up crowding out the character. So I found this helpful for me. In the course of one of those conversations I also realised that my character would be better re-cast, in terms of age and background. It did actually make my story more interesting because her authentic voice and personality was better suited to a different angle.
     
  11. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    Look at the character's background and experiences. If they lived a good life, maybe they are more optimistic. If not, perhaps their words hint at pessimism. Maybe they are timid; their words would reflect this. Maybe they are a show-boater and love attention; this person would speak differently than one who did not.

    Here's an exercise: brainstorm all the ways you can think for a character to say "Jane is coming".

    I'll start with a few...

    Jane is coming.
    Jane is coming?! I haven't seen her in years!
    Jane might drop by for a few.
    Jane doesn't always make good on her promises; she probably won't show today.
    Tony's girl is coming? She's hot.
    Jane is coming? Thanks for the warning.
    No, I need my hair appointment moved up to one o'clock. Damned if I let that bitch Jane stroll in looking better than me.
    Oh my God! Jane will be here? Like, as in right here? Can I shake her hand? Ohmygod, I'm gonna pass out! Will you revive me when she gets here?
    Yeah, I guess whatshername's coming. Janet? Jane? Who gives a fuck. Want another beer?


    Plenty of different ways to distinguish characters based on their attitudes and way of speaking.
     
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  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    One thing that's worked for me in the past is to crank the dial up to 10 on each of their voices and then dial back. In my current WIP, one of the characters has a bit of a Riddick history, so I actually wrote him speaking in that fetishized sort of way Riddick has for a few pages, then I dialed him back to a more normal zone and edited those cranked pages later. It helped separate him from the other main male protag, both in my mind and also on the page. Your mileage may vary.
     
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  13. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some specific ideas that I've found helpful are:

    *Play with syntax.

    One of my characters is a guy [that] doesn't use relative pronouns if I can possibly avoid it.

    All of my others, for the most part, use the relative pronouns [that] they are expected to.

    *Play with sentence length.

    One of my characters tends to talk a lot about whatever pops into his head, and having an IQ north of 140 means a lot of things pop into his head to talk about.

    Another one doesn't say much.

    *Play with vocabulary / subject matter. What people tend to talk about the most is as important as How they tend to talk about it.

    One of my characters cares primarily about having fun, and killing "bad guys" is extremely fun for her, so her thought process tends to be about how exciting something is, even especially when people are dying horribly around her.

    Another one cares primarily about keeping people from getting killed, so his thought process tends to be very goal-oriented and practical.
     
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  14. khawlaazwar
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    khawlaazwar Member

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    It also happens with me. Whenever I find myself into it, I only do one thing. Give the priority to the story. Then let your character feel the story, and let it speak. But never ever try same route for telling.

    A little bit reaserch and some emotional attachment to the story always bring the new words to tell in different ways.

    Hope, this will help you!
     

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