Monday, October 14, 2013

Character Voice - A Small Discussion

"It's alive!"

"I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day."

"I am glad to be here with you, at the end of everything."

A sentence can be recognized as a character for many reasons, but most of all because of patterns of speech and cadence of words. The difference between Doctor Frankenstein in the first quote, Scarlett O'Hara in the second and Frodo in the third are not just that they are at the culmination of their tasks, their moments of triumph in essence, but that their words are formed in the way that their character would expect to speak.

Sir Winston Churchill had a distinctive speaking style
and word usage pattern. Would his manner of speech
correlate well with any characters you are writing?

Think about character voice. If Arwen was asking a gardener for advice on growing roses, would she ask in the same voice and words as Galadriel? How would Sam's Rosie approach the subject? And how would Gilraen phrase it? Would Eowyn even be interested in roses instead of horses? Each woman would ask for the advice in a different manner, probably using different words, yet the goal of their words would be the same.

So how can you develop character voice for your own characters? I think it is one of the most difficult things I've dealt with in the times I've been writing. I find it much easier with my original fiction because then I am developing the characters from the ground up, When I write fan fiction, I find it much harder. It is difficult to make Aragorn sound like the somewhat pompous and overly wordy person he often is in Lord of the Rings, but easy for me to characterize the servants and general populace he is addressing. I guess I can put myself into the shoes of the common man a bit easier than wearing the velvets of the newly-crowned King.

Jobs in a medieval castle were pretty standard -
soldier, general workman, hunter/tracker and
house staff like baker or cook. 

I'm writing a small story now that is causing me problems with character voice. I know the story line, I know who the characters are and the timeline, I know what I want to say - even to the point of drawing out the major plot element yesterday afternoon. I just can't get the voices right. And because I can't do that, I can't finish the story. I'll sit down with it again, I still have some time, but I want to do this little tale and it's fighting me every step of the way. *sigh*

Even opera singers warm up before going on stage to perform. Maybe I'll
just consider my efforts to this point as being my warm-up before I actually
wrote the story. 

On a different note, I will again be wearing my Denver Broncos jacket today. Denver is one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the National Football League. Unfortunately, the other undefeated team is the Kansas City Chiefs, their arch-rivals from their own division.

Denver will meet head-to-head with Kansas City twice this year, on November 17th and December 1st. I hope I'll be able to watch the games, but whether they win or lose, nothing will change the fact that I'm a Denver Broncos fangirl.

Happy Monday to all!

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