Putting Voice to Character

I will admit that I don’t want to write this blog post today, but it’s for a good reason… I’m more interested in editing my current WIP.

One of the things that I’ve found helps me in my editing (particularly dialogue) is when I assign a specific voice to my characters. This may be a celebrity or a person I know from life, but no matter where the voice comes from, it’s always distinctive to me. Someone I’ve heard talk a lot. Someone who I’ve seen and heard express a wide range of emotions. Having this voice assigned to a character helps me to tweak out how they word things or how visible their reactions may be to others. (Does this character wear his/her heart on their sleeve? Are they prone to loud outbursts or are they more likely to keep their anger on a tight leash? Are they carelessly expressive or regally refined?)

It might make more sense to figure out some of these characteristics during the drafting phase rather than editing, and I’ll agree with that assessment. However, I don’t always assign a specific voice to characters during drafting, because I find it can restrict development if I marry a character to a voice too early in my writing process. I may start out hearing one voice and then switch the character to another partway through the storyline. But when the time for editing comes, I try to tie only one voice to each character for the whole of the story. (It can change, however, if I come across a representation that more closely matches what I imagine a character to sound/act like.)

If this practice helps your own editing process, great! But if not, no matter. It’s just a part of how I do things. Now, I’m going to get back to my WIP…

Wishing you the best on your own creative journeys!


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