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ProAm Tips #25 - Voice

Not yours. That’s a different tip. No, this time it’s about your characters. So many writers, either in books, television, or movies, are guilty of not taking the time to make sure their characters have their own voices.

Go listen to any random dozen conversations. See how those people each use different inflections, words, and sentence structure? THAT’S voice. It’s not just tone. It’s FLAVOR.

Do this exercise to see how you fare: take a dozen pages you’ve written that contain dialogue with two or more characters you’re really proud of.

Cut and paste it into a blank document. Now… remove any indication WHO’S speaking. Can you tell the difference?

Of course you can; you wrote it, genius.

But if you give it to a random stranger and ask them to tell you how many people are speaking, who’s saying what, and if each character is distinct, how many of those strangers can answer those questions?

Characters have their own motivations, needs, goals, desires, loves, hates and preferred side of the bed. This is what makes them unique. They ALSO have words they prefer. Sentence structure they’re familiar with. Maybe even accents that set them apart.

If you really want your characters to pop, they have to REALLY be distinct from one another.

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