How To Create Character Voices

Besides having your own writer’s voice, you must create characters with their own voices.  This is very essential if you write in first person point of view.  To create character voices, you must truly understand the people in your story.  A great blog to read about different personality traits and its effect on people is http://dehypnotize.wordpress.com .

Sometimes a psychological trait has a lot to do with a character’s voice.

  • Professions have a way of sneaking into our lives.  To deal with that, you can describe your characters in their terms, with their professional jargon.  Try to get into that mindset and play with it.
  • If you’re writing a children’s book, you can try to write in a kid’s voice.  Every child has his own grammar, so you’d have some leeway.  You could use superlatives like bestest, mostest.  Use double comparatives–differenter, more better.  Some kids use past tenses like I swimmed, bringed, broughted.  Besides thinking of grammar, it is also good to think in a child’s logic as well.  For instance, kids may misunderstand or be curious about something that an adult wouldn’t pay attention to.
  • Maybe a character has a speech disorder, ADD, or paranoid schizophrenia.  The pattern of thoughts creates this effect instead of a choice of words.  If your character has ADD, you could jump from one topic to another midsentence repeatedly.  If your character has paranoid schizophrenia, you could make her intrepret everything as a conspiracy.  If you want to write gibberish, it wouldn’t be a good read, so you should keep it brief and move on.
  • If you have an elderly character, you could use a wisdom, storyteller’s way of speaking.  Instead of making it predictable, have fun with it and use an idiosyncratic approach.

Sometimes voice comes from an emotion, such as anger, depression, love, hate, fear, etc.

  • If angry, your character could become loud and impulsive; if depressed, quiet and philosophical.
  • Emotions give you a way to think and express your thoughts.  The stronger the emotion, the more energy you could develop in your stories.

Voice depends on attitude as well.  Different attitudes are naive, charming, excited, humble, cool, etc.  It will help you understand your character’s point of view, which depends on where and how your character perceives events.  It will also help you understand how your characters relate to their surroundings.

Whatever you do, make sure to read your work aloud.  Make sure you transformed the words on the page how your character would speak instead of how you would speak.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Character Sketch VS. Character Profile

CHARACTER SKETCH

A character sketch is used to describe your character’s appearance and personality traits.  It’s the first step to know your characters in your own words.

If you like to draw, then you can sketch your characters.  You wouldn’t have to describe their appearance in words because there would be a visual instead.  Or, you can cut out pictures of a celebrity, who your character looks like.

I list their name, height, age, ethnicity, occupation, and personality traits.  I don’t write in complete sentences or get specific with details.  I give the main points; that is it.  Being brief and straight to the point works for me, but it doesn’t mean your character sketches have to be that way.  Maybe you want to make it fancy by using complete sentences, or putting everything in paragraph form instead of simply listing.

There is nothing wrong with any approach as long as you feel confident that you understand your characters enough.

CHARACTER PROFILE

A character profile is a more advanced way to sketch out your characters.  It should be the last thing you do before starting a rough draft.  It brings your characters to life.  Your characters get to describe themselves.  The questions on my profile start out as “Are you…?” “Do you…?”

When I fill out a character profile, I have fun with it.  I pretend like my main characters are being interviewed for a reality TV show.  This involves  getting inside my character’s head, so it’s a role playing exercise.

These are the questions on my character profile:

Name:

Gender:

Age:

Ethnicity:

Homestate:

Live currently:

Top 3 personality traits:

Occupation:

Birthday:

Favorite colors:

Favorite foods:

Favorite music:

Favorite TV shows:

Favorite magazines:

What do you do when you get upset?

What do you do when you get sad?

What do you do when you get happy?

What do you do when you get stressed?

Describe your childhood.

Describe your family and friends.

How would some of your family members/friends describe you?

Ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?

How do you drive?  Ever get road rage?

Do you curse?  If not, are you uncomfortable around it?

Would you ever throw anyone under the bus or use them as a scapegoat?

Thrive off drama or would you rather live in peace?

What’s your conflict/arguing style?

Do you view things in black/white terms or are you able to see the gray side of things?

Charming?

A lot of friends or loner?

Boring or interesting?

Glass half full or half empty?

Whether have beauty or brains?

Sensitive or thick skin?

Are you a private person?

Are you independent?

Do you think you’re a good or bad person?

Arrogant or lacking confidence?

Couch potato or exercise?

What’s your type on a romantic level?

Do you get jealous or envious?

Do you like sex?

Do you feel sexy or cute?

Do you want children?

Do you want to get married?

Do you have a significant other?  If so, describe your relationship.

Would you ever cheat on a significant other?

What’s your hobbies?

Do you like to party?

What’s your dream job and how successful would you like to be at it?

Rebel or someone who follows rules?

Leader or follower?

Messy or neat?

Are you competitive?

Do you take directions/orders well?

Are you a team player or do you like to work by yourself?

Love or hate to travel?

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