1. Jessicalove08
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    Jessicalove08 Member

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    What's a character's voice?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Jessicalove08, Nov 9, 2008.

    I know that sounds stupid, but I'm curious to ask what a character's voice is and how does it differ? I have three character voices in my current novel. But I'm not sure if that's too confusing. So should I just use two character voices instead of three. I mean I know what my character's personalities are. It's just I don't know what their voices are. Is it the same as a personality? Or is there a topic that you can refer me to that has this info? I'm just curious because, my characters are in a way different, but somehow the same. Amanda, one of my main characters, is the confused teen girl. My second main character is the awkward teen played by Mia. And the last main character is that of the brooding vampire played by Daniel. Are these voices or just stereotypes? I'm just really not sure of anything. I'm reading more into this, but I'm getting lost as I go. I really want to know this. Thanks.
     
  2. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    "Voice" is usually used to refer to the writer's voice, as in how they write the story, though I guess characters have voices as well.

    Voice is not the same as personality, though that figures into it. Voice is how the character conveys their personality to the reader. How they come across in the story. This refers more aptly to a first-person story where the character is actually the one telling it, because then the story would be told in THEIR voice. If it's third person, then their voice is actually being filtered through the voice of the writer. A character's voice can still be conveyed in third person, but it's not as obvious, and it's easier for the writer's voice to intrude.

    Voice is how the character conveys their personality, likes, dislikes, prejudices, strengths, flaws, quirks, thoughts, feelings, etc. through the story. It's tied in with characterization (character development), except that the writer is the one doing the characterizing, whereas voice is something more intimate that only the characters themselves can convey properly. (Hence why characters' voices come through more clearly in first person. It's like the difference between me telling you what somebody said, and you hearing them speak for themselves. You get a clearer picture of who they are and what they really think if you hear them in person.)

    Don't know if that helps. Just to clarify that the personality types of your characters ("awkward teen," "brooding vampire") are NOT the character's voices, they're just personality types.
     
  3. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    Yeah, voice is more what they think and say and how they act than what they are.

    You could have an awkward teen with an egotistical, elitist, above-it-all voice, or you could have an awkward teen who just sounds... awkward.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Different people use different speech patterns in conversation. It can be sentence length, a fondness for obscure words, caertain hesitation words and phrases they use, a tendency to pun, etc.

    These speech characteristics will "attach" to a character, help that character stand out in the reader's mind. Not only will they show in dialogue, they can also appear in narration from that character's POV.
     
  5. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    Aye. It doesn't have to be drastic, either. There can be subtle things, like the choice of words people use about certain things. For example:

    "Americans drive on the right side of the road" versus "Us Americans drive on the right side of the road!"

    Very little is changed between those two sentences, but your impression of the character is changed quite a bit just by their voice.
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Because I learn best by examples, I will show the same passage in two voices.

    I was in history class when it happened. I recon I never much liked history. Outside the window leaves blew and crawled across the ground. Leaves looked like they crawled—like they was alive.


    I sat in history class when it happened—so boring. I stared out the window, twiddling my hair between my fingers. Leaves crawled across the ground, and I imagined the scraping sounds they made on the sidewalks.

    It can also be done in third person. The MC's POV that the scene is written in can take on his voice.

    She sat in history class when it happened. She figured she didn’t much like history. She stared out the window where the leaves blew and crawled across the ground. The leaves looked like they crawled—like they were alive.


    She sat in history class when it happened. So boring, she thought as she twiddled her blond hair between her fingers. She stared out the window. Leaves crawled across the ground, and she imagined the scraping sounds they made on the sidewalk.

    When people say character's voice, this is what I think they mean. I think Stephen King is really good at it. He is one of the best when it comes to character's voice and dialog, but he lacks in other things.


     

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