Friday, March 4, 2011

Character Voice

Hey all! Here's the newest installment of GPF. Today's guest's blog is always full of fun and interesting views. So please head over there and tell Devin hi for me. :-)

Character Voice

When you write, do you think from your mind or your characters?

It may seem weird--writing from your characters mind (we've created them after all, shouldn't we think the same?)--but if you think about it, our characters aren't us. Way to state the obvious, right?

Most writers that I've met call their stories their babies--their precious brain child. But what about the characters? They should be just as much our babies as our plots. Even more so, in my opinion. You could have the best Victorian era mystery plot EVER, but if your main character is talking like a valley girl? If they're describing things as clean and bright, it's not going to be right. Again, this is probably obvious.

When it comes to describing things, I think, at first, that writers go for the words that they know. I also think that we describe the people/places/things to reflect its history and personality. Alcatraz looks lonely because it hasn't been used. London is dreary because of its notorious grey skies. The villains are devilishly beautiful or ugly as heck. This is how we want our readers to get a feel for people. This is how we show.

But is your character going to think London is dreary if they've lived under grey skies their entire life? Let's say your MC is a guy that just does not like women. If your villain is a lady, would he really call her beautiful--whether she was or not?

It doesn't just stop there. What if your MC's biggest dream was to be a chef (or they could really just love food)--would those green eyes look like summer leaves or would they look like cucumbers? Is someone going to be blushing a lady bug red or are they going to blushing a bell pepper red?

One of the easiest ways to get a start on character voice is to think like them. If they're a foodie, use food! If they're into plants and botany, use nature. If they're the mathematical sort, use numbers and logic. If they're a shopaholic, use clothes and shoes and name brands. You get the idea.

It may seem obvious--redundant to say, even--but this is one of the things that helped me the most when I began writing. One of my first characters (this was a paranormal story) had the ability to touch something and know exactly what made it up. So, after awhile, I finally realized that touch should be the sense I used most. Not sight. Not smell. Not hearing. Touch. It had to be the most important, because it was the most important to him.

So, take a look at your characters--interview them if you haven't already--and look at your manuscript. Are they matching up?
Thanks Devin!
Anyone else, if you want to do a post on Fridays, please contact me as soon as you can, as the Fridays are going fast. I'm booked until June so far. :-) My e-mail address is: (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com).
So... What do you do to match the voice to the character?


  1. Thanks for letting me do the guest post! :) Would totally answer the question, but you've just gotten my method. :P

    Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for that, one author used to say that he travelled by train and during the journey interviewed his characters one by one. When he reached his destination, he knew them thoroughly...

  3. Very good advice. This is (yay) something I already do. I try to tie how I describe an emotion to the mc's interest. Like a gymnast's stomach might do a double flip. Or it might do a flip turn for a swimmer. ;)

  4. Great advice. As a newbie writer, I'm still working out the kinks and experimenting with different techniques. I'll keep Devin's thoughts in mind while a revise my novel. Thanks!

  5. Awesome post! I'm writing a book where the character is nothing like me and getting into her head is difficult. But, I think it's necessary. Great, great, great.

  6. Great post Misha and Devin!!! Thanks!

  7. Great post! It was interesting to read about characters and voice.

  8. Great post Misha and Devin, a character interview as one begins to write is very helpful.

  9. I tend to do a few character interviews as things go. Even a quick: "Why did you say that?" can help. Nice post.

  10. I'm now kicking myself. I just realized with the new shiny idea I've been neglecting to really hone in on the voice of the main character. But I love the idea of seeing someone with green cucumber eyes.

  11. I've never thought of this consciously, but as I reread my last wip, I realized I did conform to the character rather than he conform to me.


  12. This is really great - I am hoping to write a book one day. So nice to have found your lovely blog :) XOLaura

  13. Hi Misha, Hi Devin,
    Thanks for an interesting post. I agree with what you say. I try to get to know my characters so well that I know their mannerisms, ways of speaking and reactions, etc. as though they were a friend.

    I don't agree about London, though. I lived in San Diego, under blue skies, for ten years and I still think London is a wonderful city. Not dreary at all!

  14. Thinking from the character's mind rather than your own could help you nail their voice better--great post!

  15. Always a pleasure, Devin. ;-)

    Carolle I love doing interviews. That's my number two way to know my characters.

    Yes it was. :-) Thanks for stopping by, Anita.

    Stina, that's a good way to find their voice. Things they love will always find a way to work into their thoughts. :-)

    Good luck with your writing, Laura. :-)

    Clarissa, one of the characters in Doorways is like that. Sadly, he was also a view-point character, so I had to struggle to understand where he was coming from. Still am, but I'm working my way towards it. Good luck!

    Thanks Colene! :-)

    Thanks Golden. :-)

    Oh yes, Myne. I can't believe that I ever wrote without doing one first. :-)

    Shannon I do that too! Especially if what he did was seemingly out of character. :-)

    Schmidty, when I have a shiny new idea, I tend to be much more worried about getting the story down than I am of finding the voice. :-)

    That's great, Maria. :-)

    Hi Laura, I'm glad you like it! Good luck with starting your book. :-)

    Hi Tony. I must say that your efforts show. ;-) Totally agree with you on London. Most wonderful City in the world.

    So true, LB. :-)

  16. Great post, Misha and Devin, thank you and sorry I'm a little late catching up! I'm a newbie writer and am enjoying creating characters that aren't just aspects of me. One veteran writer suggeseted giving every character, however minor, a secret. It never needs to be divulged, but just knowing it gives more dimension. I also ask them what they collect - most people have collections of something. It's intriguing what I've unearthed!


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