The words we choose to write are almost as important as who we choose to have say them.
Can you imagine if it had been Arwen who told the hobbits, “My friends, you bow to no one” or if Luna Lovegood had been the one to stand up to Voldemort after Harry’s ‘death’?
For our readers to truly connect with our characters, it is vital that we give them life as individuals. We cannot let our Author Voice and Character Voice become blurred.
What is the difference between an Author Voice and a Character Voice?
Your Author Voice is the way in which you choose to style your narration. Even between different genres and writing styles, there will always be an underlying tone that is uniquely you. This is how readers were able to discover that Robert Galbraith was none other than JK Rowling, even though her other books were nothing like Harry Potter.
A Character Voice is the way your individual characters speak. Have you ever noticed a specific friend or family member who apologizes all the time? Or someone who uses a specific word or phrase constantly? These are unique characteristics of that individual person, and what makes their voice unique from anyone else’s.
It is also vitally important that your readers can tell the difference between characters. Even though people who spend a lot of time together may pick up phrases and behaviors from each other, they are still individual and unique in their own ways. If you were to take away all the dialogue tags (he said, she said, name said, etc), your readers should, in theory, be able to figure out who is saying what based solely on the way each line of dialogue is written.
Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to figure out your character’s unique speech pattern:
– Social Status
– Geographical Region
– Life Experience
– Personality Traits (shy, outgoing, leader, class clown)