Hello, my faithful readers!
Many weeks ago, I began a line of posts on Character Voice. Sadly, I never finished it, instead leaving it to be pushed further and further down into the archives of Writerly. But today it will resurface. It will come up, came alive, and came anew. Are you ready?
Character Voice: What is it?
"Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of a first-person narrator; a persona. Because Voice has so much to do with the reader's experience of a work of literature, it is one of the most important elements in a piece of writing." (Quoting Writability, The Blog.)
I think that that gives you a good definition of character voice, what it is, and why it is important. So, bearing that in mind, let us discover how to make it good.
So, when creating a character that is believable, one should not focus so much on physical descriptions as on said character's character. As I said in the first post on this, trial and error is really the best way to go. However, you can have less error if you take the following into account the following.
1. Every Character is Different. Each different person will have different speech patterns and vocabularies. For instance, if a character grew up in the slums of New York, they would have more of an accent. But if they are tenured professors, or even teens growing up in a home where proper English is spoken, they may use more uncommon words (like indeed, mayhap, nevertheless, to name a few). Think about that.
2. Speech Tics. Is there a word one character insists on using, be it with the correct meaning or not? (The word Inconceivable comes to mind.) In a novel of mine, one of the main characters uses the word Seriously all. The. Time. And, because that is just how she is, another character from the same story accuses him of constant austerity (because he's always so serious). Is there a word your characters use a lot? Or a phrase? Do they have a motto of sorts? These are good questions to ask yourself.
3. Tone. Ah, tone. Tone is more important, I would say, than either of the above. But it is also harder to pin down. This is when you really have to think about your character. Think about their outlook on the world around them. Whereas the top two tips were more for dialogue than anything, tone should be consistent whether spoken aloud or being narrated. Is your character snarky? Sarcastic? Do they turn a blind eye to all the bad things they see? Do they have a troubled past? What about their sense of humor? Do they have a facade they have to keep up? These are all things to think about.
Bearing all of the above in mind, you should think about your character's voice. But do not just think of that; think of the character. For there can be no voice if there is no voicebox.
And, as always, Happy Writing!