Thursday, February 24, 2011

REVISING: Voice

Yup, I'm still deep in the trenches of revisions. I keep asking myself why this revision is taking SO LONG. I think there are multiple reasons, but one is: VOICE.

I'm striving to make each character's voice their own.

I'm also in the trenches of reading THE DOME by Stephen King, and I'm wondering why is this book taking me SO LONG to read? If it were any other author, I probably would have quit the book by now. But, the major reason I'm sticking with the book, is: VOICE. King has a gazillion characters in this book, and they each started out with such strong voices - some even seemed a little over the top to me. But I learned some things from his writing style in this book. Word selection is so important.

Duh. Right?

Maybe I'm a little slow in the head. But here's what I'm grasping... You can use the word WALKED in a sentence. We all get what that means, right?

But what if your character is angry? STOMPED
What if your character is giddy with happiness? SKIPPED
What if your character isn't right in the head? STAGGERED
What if your character is always in a hurry? DASHED

Walking is more than just putting one foot in front of the other. And, *how* your character walks lends to his VOICE. So, as you and I work on revisions and VOICE, consider each and every word (not just verbs) and make sure that is a word choice the character would make, in dialogue, monologue, and action.

11 comments:

  1. So true Margo. Every thing they do SHOWS how they feel, act, and part of their personality. In addition, are they twirling their hair, picking their nose (eeuw) or examining their nails. All these things ad to the character. Voice is my favorite thing although I usually write from first person. My critique group says my voice is strong, but I am not so sure it would be had I several characters to deal with. It is almost like you have to take their lines out separately and look at just them to see if their character comes through. Good luck on voice!

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  2. I think voice has a lot to do with being able to write dialogue, and being able to apply those quirks to your prose. When I write in a different voice then I'm almost transcribing what I think they'd be saying (I always write in first person).

    What I find really helps, in developing voice, is to break the fourth wall. Have them stop and almost talk at the reader. "What am I supposed to do about this? Can you tell me what this feeling is?" etc.

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  3. I've definitely had trouble with defining voice for secondary characters. This time I'm trying to really flesh out my character sketches before I start writing, in hopes that their voices come more easily :) Great post!

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  5. Those are good things to think about! So much of what we say about ourselves isn't verbal.

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  6. Excellent point. I think it all goes along with the golden rule: show don't tell. The more that we can see, the better that we will know the characters, and the stronger their voices will be. Good luck with your editing.

    <3 Gina Blechman

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  7. Voice is the toughest demon I wrestle with. Not just my own, but my characters as well. I start out great but somewhere, some twenty pages or so in, they fall apart and I'm left holding limp noodles. Best of luck in your revisions!

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  8. Voice is hard and just when you think you've got it, you start a new book and have to find a whole new set of voices. I'm enjoying your posts.

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  9. Voice is definitely something I need to check in my revisions - but right now I'm trying to focus on settings, and dropping my word count.

    But there are some things I definitely need to improve, like my main male character's speech - he talks too much. That's not him :D So I need to figure out how to make him say the same stuff but in less words.

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  10. Voice is something I'm struggling with. I'm also reading The Dome and can't seem to read it with my normal gusto. Not sure why.

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  11. I am aware that you write these verbs to show their state of mind but I guess I've never thought about it as to showing their voice. I love this and thank you for sharing this post.

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