Capturing the Voice of Characters

It’s taken me a little longer to get into the revision I’m working on for my novel Petal Pushers. I’m really excited about the elements I’m adding, which should add more flavor and depth to the story, and will let me move it from mainstream into the paranormal genre.

What’s the holdup? The voice. It’s that important element in writing that gives the ‘feel’ for the characters, and if it’s lacking, the story is not going to come across to the readers the way I want. I’m happy with my main character’s voice, and that of the supporting characters, but that new voice I’m adding didn’t come thru for me until yesterday.

The reason is that I’ve also been making little tweaks to another novel, whose characters are quite different than the one I’m working on. Every time I sat down to put Miss Addie on paper, her words came out sounding like somebody she wasn’t. She is a ghost from the early nineteen hundreds, which is pretty far removed from the spunky abuse survivor and her rock star boyfriend in Nefarious. Rereading Petal Pushers, taking notes and getting a fresh look at the plot line, helped make things clear for me, and now Miss Addie is ready for her ink and paper debut.

Capturing a voice reminds me of what psychics and character actors do. It’s like I need to channel whoever I’m writing, really get to see the world from their eyes. I don’t like to write them until I can literally hear them in my head, how they sound and the way they speak, think, feel, and view world. My imagination takes over as I immerse myself in the story from that person’s point of view.

Anything I can do to connect myself to them helps. I don’t often listen to music while I write, but sometimes certain songs help set the tone as I sketch out a character. Darci, the MC from Petal Pushers, is hopelessly addicted to Krispy Kreme donuts, so as I wrote my first draft, I can’t tell you how many dozens of those things I scarfed down. Whether it’s learning a song on the banjo (the kids just loved that one), watching Mob Movie marathons, or drinking schnapps concoctions no normal person would want in their glass, I like to have that bond with the people in my books, no matter how weird or quirky it makes me look.

I’d love to hear other methods for creating character ‘voice’.  How do you do it?

8 comments on “Capturing the Voice of Characters

  1. Jess Lawson says:

    Honestly, I still feel new to finding the voice of characters in my manuscript and in my projects as a whole. I love, love, love how you immerse yourself so fully into the characters’ lives, and I’m inspired by this post to try new methods. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks Jess!
    I’m so glad you’re inspired, and I’d love to hear about what you try and what works for you. 🙂

  3. Joy says:

    Doing copious read throughs help me get into character and putting myself in their situation also helps. Hope you didn’t put on any weight from those donuts!

  4. As some of the others have said, I just read through it a lot and see what sounds right. I think of the characters and what state of mind they’re in and what their personalities are. Sometimes the wittiest, schnazziest dialog is the most out of character dialog for a character, and sometimes that takes a while to figureout. Eventually, you’ll get through it. 🙂

    ❤ Gina Blechman

  5. alberta ross says:

    Hi – theres a suprise for you over at my place

  6. alberta ross says:

    I find a lot of voices come from people I have met or known both social and work related also on my travels sitting at never ending train stations, bus stops, airports and park benches people talk to you if you travel alone.

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