These pieces of their past will have an impact on how they speak. Its a good idea to think about these things when you create your character. Elka in The wolf road, for example, has no formal schooling, grew up in a remote wilderness with a distant, stoic man. When she talks about her the feelings or her observations, she talks in terms of nature, with incorrect grammar, shes uncouth, has very few manners, a limited vocabulary, but talks in a respectful way about the wild. It matches her background. Penelope, on the other hand, is highly educated, from a big town and a loving family so speaks properly, carefully, with a better vocabulary and can read people better. She also, sometimes, speaks ambiguously or sarcastically, neither of which Elka quite grasps.
Click here to Tweet and share it! They have a past, they have dreams and desires and goals and a reason to get up in the morning. Look at people, their backgrounds form a huge part of who they are mom and how they approach the world. A woman who has been homeless for ten years will not speak in the same way as a twenty-something man working in a bank. Even if they both went to the same school. Even if they are brother and sister and had identical upbringings. Something changed and now theyre poles apart.
In my wilder writing dreams, a part of me wanted to write a book in which, should it ever be turned into a movie, could work with a voice-over narrator. Remember, a novel, novella, short, all have one thing in common theyre stories and stories are best when theyre told. If youre looking to master everything from dialogue to different styles of grammar, youll get the best tools available for writing fiction in this, write Great Fiction Collection of 12 great writing resources. Click here to buy it now. Word Choice character Background. Word choice and background will hugely inform your characters voice. I cant overstate this too much. If you want your characters to be 3D, stop thinking of them as characters and start thinking of them as people.
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If you havent read this wonderful" by gary Provost about varying sentence length, go and do it now, then come back here. Rhythm is essential and you need to tune your ear to the world to pick. Listen to the way tim people speak, listen to the way you and your friends and family speak. Try to pick up sentence length and emphasis. Where does someone from New York put the emphasis? Where does someone from London?
What about that woman from rural Wales? Pay attention to the difference between how men and women, adults and children, speak. There are some particular regional dialects I love sonnet which sound like music. In the uk, the Scouse accent is amazing and lyrical. The Scouse are storytellers and if you get one going on a particularly funny event, theyll never stop. Ive always held a deep and abiding love for storytelling traditions, in particular the oral histories of the American south, especially when used in movies like forrest Gump and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Dialect accent, you dont have to write in dialect to give voice. The wolf road has its fair share of dialect but Elkas character and her background, required. Where a normal character might say, i heard squirrels in the trees, Elka says Chittering somewhere in the tree above me said squirrels were coming out. Instead of using the word of, she says a, she drops off syllables in words. Instead of between and about its tween, bout. It can take some getting used.
Dialect can add color and flavor to a story and can show a lot about a characters education and past without having to spell it out. Dialect and accents are great to play with and not every character has to sport. In Wuthering heights, joseph the faithful servant speaks in a thick yorkshire accent so Bronte wrote his lines as almost indecipherable dialect. It is an elegant way to show his character and his background without going into unnecessary detail. Use dialect sparingly, a lot of people dont like it and it can be difficult to convey the exact accent you have in mind, especially as not all readers will have heard. Its safer (but less fun, in my opinion) to limit your dialect usage to very careful word choice, which Ill talk about more below. Rhythm, good writing is all about rhythm.
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I couldnt have written The wolf road any other way. The story is all about Elkas past, her memories and her dawning realisations. I couldnt have done half of what hippie I did in this book without writing in first person. A first person story has to be told in your characters voice. A third person story is, usually, told in the authors voice. That author voice can take on all kinds of new and shiny characteristics but ive always found with third person, the author is telling the story whereas with first person, the character is and thats what I love about. I want my characters to reach through the page and pull you in instead of me, the author, trying to push you. Here Are 7 reasons Writing a novel makes you a badass.
Even my mother said the same. This is a good thing. It means the character voice was strong enough to overtake mine. Here are a few things to consider if youre looking to write a story with a strong voice. First person vs Third person, ive always found it easier to inject voice into first person. The wolf road is first person, so is my second novel. I love writing this way. I can get deep into my characters head and resume explore their feeling and reactions in every situation. It can be frustrating not to have a second voice or something happen with another, far away, character that increases the tension or adds a new perspective but Im happy to forgo that convenience to get close to my main character, plus it makes for.
write like someone else, itll sound fake. Character voice on the other hand, that I will talk about. A strong voice is what will make your character feel authentic to readers. Several friends who have read The wolf road have given me the same comment i forgot you, my friend, wrote. They dont hear me or my voice in the book at all.
She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and great white sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, a fire performer, and a juggler, and she is currently a managing editor at Titan books in trunk London. The wolf road is her first novel. Visit her at or on Twitter @bethklewis. Photo by Andrew Mason. There are a couple of definitions its useful to keep in mind as. There is Author voice and Character voice. I cant tell you much about Author voice.
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Ask any agent or editor what they look for add in a manuscript and inevitably theyll say theyre looking for voice. But how do you ensure you and your main character possess this? Thats the billion-dollar question, isnt it? There is a lot of writing advice out there, some good, some not so good, and Ill try not to repeat. Im only going to talk about what works for me, and I hope it can provide some guidance and help for you as you develop yours. So with that caveat in mind, lets talk about voice. This guest post is by, beth Lewis. . Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach.