If you have read my previous posts, you know I am taking part in sunvssnow. I have worked my ass off for the last week trying to get my submission to be stellar and not just good. With the help of all the amazing feedback I got, I think I was able to achieve that. Granted it was a lot of hard work and definitely made me think critically about my writing. I had to condense, show, explain, reconsider age group, and ultimately, I rewrote the entire beginning to my novel. But in the end, it was absolutely worth it. In this post however, I wanted to talk about something that I had quite a few positive comments on (YAY).
Voice is something that is definitely hard to achieve in writing and it is even harder to teach. Trust me, I have tried with my English students.
One of the best ways to achieve voice is to know your character implicitly, especially the way they think and speak. Every person has specific catch phrases, ways of saying things, and mannerisms when we they speak. These make our characters who they are just as much as they make us who we are. It is something that makes characters relatable. When those characters are on print, the writer needs to use the way the characters says things coupled with those words, to give the reader a picture of who they are. Standout characters literally have a voice.
Infusing voice also means knowing your age range. I work with middle school students, ages twelve to fourteen, on a daily basis. I know how they speak and the newest phrases in teen lingo. I also know what they are talking about, what is important to them, and how they relate to both peers and adults. These are crucial. Again, it all comes back to being able to relate to the characters and believe they are real. If you can’t picture the characters and draw from them, your plot is useless. These are what give your character voice.
I personally like to pretend that my character is actually having a conversation in my head. How are they saying that line? What words are they using? What tone would they use? How would they deliver it? These key questions will also give your characters some humor and enable you to write clever dialogue or thoughts for your character that fit him/her.
It all comes down to knowing their personality and being able to deliver it with authenticity.