1. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

    May 8, 2014
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    Washington, DC, USA

    Avoiding Characters Sounding/Acting Like Each Other...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Commandante Lemming, Dec 9, 2016.

    So, I've noticed that my writing group has been flagging issues across multiple stories with the characters sounding both like each other and like characters from my other stories in their dialogue. I usually get props on the dialogue itself, just the lack of differentiation. I do try to differentiate (regional dialect, varrying rules on profanity usage, pet phrases), but if it's not coming through than I should try and do more. So, does anyone have any tips or tricks on making sure characters speak differently?

    Also a separate question - how important would you consider it if people flag that a lot of characters tend to have similar outlooks across multiple stories? I get a lot that I write a lot of characters who are snappy with their dialogue and have sarcastic, cynical outlooks on life. Part of the reason I write those people is that I enjoy writing them (and I one case I purposefully stocked a story full of them because I wanted to create a pressure-cooker effect on the MC).

    And the last one - does it really matter if the cast of one story reminds a reader of the cast of another one of my stories? I've been working on a novella and one critique I keep getting is that it "feels similar to your novel"...which for me the answer to that is "Well, yes, it is written in my style. So?"

    So - to review - would I be correct in assuming that the issues in paragraphs 1 and 2 (dialogue similarities and characters with overlapping worldviews) are important issues that I need to look at, while the third issue (similarities between entirely different stories) is okay and maybe even positive?
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 1, 2016
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    East devon/somerset border
    I don't think it really matters across stories - my MC's tend to be fairly acerbic, dry , hide a lot behind a sense of humor , military or ex military , not given to suffering fools or brown nosers etc ( I suspect this is because I am ex military , dry , acerbic, given to hiding behind humour not given to suffering fools or brown nosers etc)

    Within the same story though its a good idea to avoid too many characters who are too similar as readers will get confused on who's who
    Commandante Lemming likes this.
  3. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 23, 2013
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    1) Differentiating what everybody talks about should be good way to distinguish how they talk about everything.

    2) Since I'm sure most people here have read what I say about MyersBriggs and D&D Alignment, I'm going to spoil it so they can skip it:
    The narrator of my Urban Fantasy WIP, Alec Shorman, is a Lawful Evil ESFP: he focuses on his perceived responsibility to his friends, but nobody else, and he's a very sensitive, live-in-the-moment type who can't stop talking.

    My MC, Charlie Petersen, is a Neutral Evil ISTJ: she's cold, punctual, professional, and not as interested in politeness or Honor Among Thieves as Alec is.

    Alec talks about the people he does things for because he cares about them (or that he does things against because he hates them), Charlie talks about the things she does for the people she cares about (or that she does against the people she doesn't).
    Commandante Lemming likes this.

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