Friday, July 22, 2016

Look Who's Talking

I'm terrible at describing things. We've been over that. But that means that my stories are powered by action, murder, and dialogue. Lots and lots of dialogue.

The trick with that is that each character has to have their own unique voice, that somehow stands out from the others. But if I'm not careful, all the characters end up sounding like me, and that's no good. You have to think about each character's personality and background. How will that influence how they speak? Are they very upright and proper, or do they use a lot of slang? Is English their native language? How do they react when startled or hurt? Drop something on their head, and you'll see their true colors.

In my current story, my main character, Rachael, speaks in a pretty straightforward, yet casual manner. She doesn't use a lot of fillers (things like "um" and "you know"). She also tends to speak in short bursts. Just a few sentences, not much of a rambler.

Example: “I feel terrible about all this. Can I buy you a cup of coffee or something? There’s a place across the street…”

Martin, on the other hand, is made of fillers and rambling. It's like he wants to cram as many words into each sentence as possible. I have to actually hear it in my head before I can write it, but it's a lot of fun figuring out how he would say something.

Example: “Well, you know, really, it was just the once. I mean, there we are, back seat of her car, trying to get things in place for… you know. Anyway, things go a bit awry, I try to adjust, and next thing you know, she’s got a bloody nose. I tried to help as best I could but, well, she didn’t call me again after that.”

I think I've mentioned before that I mentally cast all my characters, like the story is a movie in my head. This helps me keep track of what they look like, but it's also super helpful in figuring out the voices. There is an actual person that I can hear. Several actual persons. And they sound different from each other. Is this cheating? Maybe. Maybe I'm taking the easy way out with character creation. But I've got a lot of people to kill. I don't have time to dream this all up from scratch.

And I'm not going to share these placeholder people, because I think the reader should be allowed to interpret things as they like, and not be forced to imagine things exactly the way I imagine them. That would be an exercise in futility anyway.

I'm still way behind on word count. Wish me luck, and I'll see you Tuesday.

1 comment:

  1. oh genius of the written text. I have a question for you as you have cast a character in your head you know what they dress like talk like and the conversations they have. My question is how do you explain the look of this character in your story without sounding like an episode of cops. Is it something where you have them getting dressed in a situation explain how they bump their head on a 6ft tall door way to explain that the character is 6ft tall ? How long do you wait to do these thing as character enters your story and what do you recommend for short character descriptions. a picture is worth a thousand words but with writing someone has to paint it over and over. I am just hoping to get some insight from expert.