Let’s Talk About ‘Voice’

So… What exactly is Voice, you might ask?

To answer this question, first you must understand that there are two different kinds of Voice. The first is the voice of the author, it’s the way their style and word choice and sentence structure communicates not just their ideas, but themselves also. It’s what either makes readers love the author, or what may turn readers away.

The second Voice is the voice of the character. This is more relevant when writing a story, because the voice of the character obviously affects the dialogue (based on the character’s personality, how will they interact with the other characters in the story?), but also if you are writing in first person, it is what guides the story.

Why is it important?

If the voice in the story is strong, it can draw people in. It can help propel the story forward, and it keep people invested, even if the plot itself is at a slow point.

Voice is one of the few things I’ve been specifically commented and praised about. I have had friends who have read letters I wrote to them, and they say that when they read it, it sounds just like I am talking to them. They say that I just seem to write down every thought that I am thinking at that moment, and it seems like a (very one-sided) conversation.

That’s something that I want to accomplish when I develop a character’s voice. I want it to seem like the character is having a conversation with the reader, and at the same time, still guiding them through the story.

I’ve been successful doing that with some characters, and it’s been a lot of tough work getting it to work with others. One of the best ways to help develop the voice of a character is to know the character. I have done lots of different exercises to get to know my main character in the story I’m working on. However, I have other characters that I need to work with a bit more, because as I write and add to my WIP’s (Works in Progress), I learn and peel back different layers of my characters and what their motivations are, what decisions they would make in certain situations, how they would interact with certain characters. It’s a creative process, but also a craft that can be perfected.

That’s why I am going to start a mini series on developing character voice. Since I have a few characters that I need to develop anyways, I decided that I am going to try out different exercises that I find online, and let you guys know what works for me or not (And maybe help you figure out what will work best for you).

Since I already have used an online source to develop a character, I’ll go ahead and give you a mini preview of what I plan on doing with this.

Now, let’s get right into it!

Character Development #1: Amelia

Amelia is the main character in one of the stories I am currently working on. She is in her mid-twenties, with a college degree but no real career path in sight. Amelia has two best friends, Maya and Noah, who are her main support system. The reason I wanted to develop her character more is because this is a first person story, but it is from a dual perspective. The two characters are completely different from each other, but I still wanted to make sure that when you read Amelia’s perspective, not only could you immediately tell it was her, but also make sure that she is a realistic character, that has some complexity to her so that the reader remains interested in her story. This is especially important since the other perspective is that from Death (Yeah, I know that’s quite the… interesting perspective), and since Amelia is a character that is dealing with some issues that I’ve dealt with also, I want to make sure that I am not just writing a carbon copy of me (Basically, I want her to be her own person).

The website I used for her character development exercise is:  http://writingexercises.co.uk/charex.php

The only part of this that I had ended up using was writing the list of 10 Truths, 10 Lies, and 10 Bizarre facts about Amelia. At that point, that was pretty much all I needed to help me get a better idea of what Amelia herself was like, and how she would drive the story along, and interact with different characters and situations.

20190309_161647-1 (2)

The picture above are the lists, which I had handwritten because it’s more helpful me to write it down instead of typing it when I’m planning out my story and characters. Below is the list again, in an easier to read format:

Amelia

-Truths

  1. She’s sarcastic
  2. She’s unsatisfied
  3. She has loose ends (relationship wise, both with her parents and romantically)
  4. She’s a college grad
  5. She’s a realist
  6. She pines after guys who seem unattainable
  7. She’s a cynic
  8. She’s curious
  9. She’s always trying to learn
  10. She has a guard up around her heart

-Lies

  1. She’s courageous
  2. She’s rich
  3. She’s what society deems successful
  4. She’s happy
  5. She has her life together
  6. She’s sure of herself
  7. She’s confident about how her life will go
  8. She likes children
  9. She’s friendly
  10. She’s calm

-Bizarre

  1. She likes Cheetahs
  2. She doesn’t have a car
  3. Her favorite color is Orange
  4. She loves hot chocolate
  5. Her favorite movie is Moulin Rouge
  6. She hates mushrooms
  7. She doesn’t like tequila
  8. She dislikes the color brown
  9. She dislikes philosophy
  10. She doesn’t believe in God

I think that this was a good exercise for me to use to develop Amelia further because I already had an idea of what she was as a character, but I needed to flesh her out more and see her as a real person. Making these lists made me think more about not only what kind of personality Amelia has, but also a better idea of how all of this caused her to act the way she does in the story.

I would recommend making these lists if you already have a summary of what you character is like, and just need to get a better understanding of them. It helps to get you inside the mind of the character a little bit, especially if you are stuck and have no idea how the character may react to a certain situation in the story. It’s also a quick and simple exercise, so if you already spent a fair amount of time developing the character and just need a quick way to delve just a little deeper, this is perfect for just that.

Overall, I would give this a 4/5, as it is a quick easy exercise to help delve a little deeper into your character, but if you need to do a lot more to develop the character, I would recommend an exercise that makes you work with the character more.

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this little review, thank you for reading, and I will see you next time!
Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

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