Posted by: nancycurteman | April 29, 2018

How to Create Unique Character Voices

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Character voice is an important aspect of character development. Each character’s voice in your novel including minor ones should have a unique voice that sets that character apart from others. Character voice can make or break a novel. Your job as an author is to create voices so distinct that each character can be identified without a tag. Here are a few ideas that will help authors can create unique character voices.

Character voice encompasses a number of different elements including dialogue, internal narrative, body language, external interactions, and speech patterns. Here are ways to incorporate these elements into character building.

  • Internal narrative is important because your character’s thought processes aid readers’ understanding of his motivations. Internal narrative reveals hopes, fears, prejudices and regrets. It may show a tender vulnerability in a gruff character or a cruel side of an apparently kind person.
  • Body languageoften speaks louder than dialogue. Consider facial expressions, posture, and bodily tics. Often character voice is found in what is not said as much as what is said.
  • Speech patternssuch as use of slang, grunts, snorts, chuckles or groans say a lot about a character. Manner of speaking such as short or long sentences, clipped words add interest to a voice. Accents or dialects can provide a character’s background.
  • Actions and interactions give each character a distinctive voice. When faced with an issue one might retreat, another cry or lash out in anger, still another might move into an intellectual problem-solving mode, take charge and use a no-nonsense approach to dealing with conflict.
  • Dialogue is influenced by many things. Personality and cultural influences should differ among story people and impact how they interact verbally. Voice is shaped and refined by experiences.

The main qualities of a character will influence the voice.  Is the character cocky, depressed, bossy, optimistic or thoughtful?

Consider your characters ethnicity, religious practices, physical and mental ability, sexuality, gender identity. Let your character’s upbringing, friends, occupation. and past and present relationships influence the way they speak. Whether your character is an introvert or extrovert will impact how they engage in conversation.

Two additional points:

  1. The narration in your novel should be in the voice of the point-of-view character. Using the type of speaking language he would use. You will be presenting the world to the reader through the character’s observation.
  2. A character’s voice is dynamic and may become different at the end of the story compared to the beginning.

If you have other ideas on how to create unique character voices I’d appreciate hearing them.

More Tips:

Dialogue: Body Language Communicates More Than Words
4 Ways to Keep Dialogue Interesting
How to Write Accents and Dialect


Responses

  1. visserilmatildea, Thank you for following Global Mysteries.

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