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What You Need to Know Most About Character Voice

kamimcarthur:

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I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I didn’t have much of an understanding of character voice two years ago. I’m an English graduate, and none of my professors in college really talked about it. I think I remember learning the definition in high school and reading it briefly in a few writing tips.

In truth, I’ve probably heard the fact that “voice is one of the biggest draws for getting an agent or editor” more than I’ve actually heard tips on writing voice. Since then, I’ve gotten to the heart of what voice is. Or so I think. You’ll have to judge for yourself. Here’s what I found for anyone who might be struggling like I once was, or anyone who wants to learn more. The stuff in this post is what helped me bring that elusive voice into focus.

First, by definition, "voice" can refer to the writer’s style, the narrator’s style, or, your characters’ persona, thoughts, speech patterns, and word choice.

Sometimes when people think of character voice, they think of first-person narration, but really, all characters have a voice of their own, even if they aren’t telling the story. To illustrate, here are three lines from Harry, Ron, and Hermione:

  • "Don’t go picking a row with Malfoy, don’t forget, he’s a prefect now, he could make life difficult for you…"
  • "Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?"
  • "I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me."

If you’ve read the books, I bet you can tell who said what.

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Voice is made up of two things: What the character talks (or sometimes thinks) about, and how she says it. In other words:

What the Character Talks about + How She Says it = Voice

Hermione believes in following rules and frequently tells Ron and Harry to do likewise. She’s also very logical and intelligent. In the first line above, she chooses to warn Harry, and then explains, logically, why he should heed her warning. Ron usually says those comical one-liners, and his language is usually a little coarser than the other two, so his quote is the second one. Because Harry is frequently accused of things, he often has to defend himself, “I don’t go looking for trouble.”

 

What Your Character Talks About

So, What does your character choose to talk about? What does he not talk about?

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(Source: kamimcarthur)

thequeen117:

Some links I have found in various Tumblr Posts that I have saved on my computer. I do not take credit for collecting all these links. Unfortunately, I did not have the mind to save/note where these various links come from. Thank you to whoever compiled these links together.

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nicolayoon:

There’s a social media campaign going on right now to spread the word on why we need more diversity in our books. It’s really fantastic and inspiring and I am so proud to be a part of it. You can learn more about it here and here.
As a writer and a mom, this campaign is also deeply personal for me. My daughter is 1/2 Korean and 1/2 Jamaican. She loooooves books. I think she might love books more than she loves anything else (including mama!). One day she’ll be able to read them on her own and I want her to be able to find herself in them. I want her to know that girls that look like her can be anyone, can do anything. 
We need diverse books because this is my family.
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nicolayoon:

There’s a social media campaign going on right now to spread the word on why we need more diversity in our books. It’s really fantastic and inspiring and I am so proud to be a part of it. You can learn more about it here and here.

As a writer and a mom, this campaign is also deeply personal for me. My daughter is 1/2 Korean and 1/2 Jamaican. She loooooves books. I think she might love books more than she loves anything else (including mama!). One day she’ll be able to read them on her own and I want her to be able to find herself in them. I want her to know that girls that look like her can be anyone, can do anything. 

We need diverse books because this is my family.

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