Character Voice – Research by Aurora Jean Alexander

Picture courtesy of: https://gigaom.com/2014/04/05/why-voice-is-the-next-big-internet-wave/
Picture courtesy of: https://gigaom.com/2014/04/05/why-voice-is-the-next-big-internet-wave/

 


A couple of months ago, visiting a successful and experienced writer friend he told me, he read one of my pieces. I still am honored and flattered he took the time. He has an amazing way of complimenting and encouraging me – but also bringing on constructive criticism which I apparently deserved. Just this time I had no idea what he meant when he told me: “You have only one character voice.”

 

— ?? —

 

I was a little shocked. Not that I didn’t believe him, I just couldn’t believe it.

 

He is a wonderful mentor and of course took the time to explain to me what he was talking about:

 

All of my characters talk the same way. I frowned. I know my characters in and out, I know their looks, their abilities, their character, and personalities, whenever I write about them I can nearly hear their voices in my head – and still, they all talk the same?

 

After my visit I went back to the piece he was talking about – and I wasn’t half through I thought I understood now what he was talking about.

 

Now: What do I need to do to change that?

 

I do what I always do in such a case: RESEARCH…

 

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On “Now Novel” I found an interesting and very helpful article which helped me define the problem I apparently have: “Talking about your Character: Voice.”

 

  • What is character voice?
  • Thinking about dialogue
  • Separating character voice and author voice
  • How to develop the voices of your characters

 

In four different chapters, the article not only defines my problem but offers a helpful and informative solution. It’s easy to read and explained in a simple and understandable way.

 

 

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On Joe Moore’s “The Kill Zone” blog I read an article, written by Jordan Dane: Five Key Ways to Create a Character’s Distinct Voice

 

Jordan offers the following, excellently explained five ways to create a character’s voice:

 

  • Word Choices
  • Confidence Level
  • Quirks/Mannerism
  • Internal/External Voice
  • Metaphors/Similes/Comparisons

 

Each one of them is explained in details and is logical and, as I think, easy to learn. We’ll see.

 *****

As a bonus, Jordan offers a link to a New York Times online test, which of course I took. And this is my result: Look at that… according to this test I’m a Southern Girl. 😀

 aj_blog_post_voice2

 

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“The Editor’s Blog” offers a variety of advice in making the voices of characters sound different. I found this blog post interesting and helpful as well. Variety in Character Voices

 

  • Use different words
  • Use different sentence patterns
  • Add humor to one character
  • Cut of speech or thought
  • Let a character ramble
  • Have characters pay attention to different things

 

The article is short, simple and precise. I think it’s adding to my learning in this matter.

 

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The “NY Book Editors” blog provides us with another interesting article with six excellent tips: Character Development: How to Create a Consistent Voice

 

  • Create a Backstory for Each Character
  • Do a Character Study
  • Hone Their Internal Dialogue
  • Research How People Speak Naturally
  • Focus on Authentic Dialogue
  • Interview the character

 

Each of the tips includes a further explanation as well as an exercise, which I consider very helpful and I’m looking forward to learning more by doing them.

 

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The “Writability”-blog delivers us an excellent definition of the “character’s voice” by giving us examples and makes us feel how important the different character voices are for our writing.

 

The article can be read here: http://avajae.blogspot.com/2011/09/defining-character-voice.html

 

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Jackie Cangro has published a blog post on “The Writer’s Block” blog, providing us with the seven elements of our “character’s voice”:

 

  • Style
  • Tone
  • Personality
  • Perspective
  • Authenticity
  • Consistency
  • Originality

 

She defines each of the elements in details and delivers descriptions which are easy to follow. I very much appreciate the easy read and learn-part of this blog post. The entire post can be found here:

https://writersblock.loft.org/2013/08/14/2641/finding_your_characters_voice

 

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K.M. Weiland has published a video post on her blog “Helping Writers become Authors.” It’s easy to follow and very educational.

 

“How to find your character’s voice” not only shows us the video but also delivers us the video transcript and help us understand the difference between authorial and character voices.

 

It helped me a lot to enter this topic and understand the basics.

 

The transcript and video can be found here: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-find-your-characters-voice/

 

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On the “Gizmodo”-Blog I found a post, written by Charlie Jane Anders  “All Your Characters Talk The Same — And They’re Not A Hivemind!”

 

This article too is very educational and gives us eight tips and hints to play with our character voices. Each of the tips comes with a detailed explanation and helps us develop our characters:

 

  • Listen to how people talk
  • Try to “hear” your characters’ individual voices
  • Realize your characters are not talking to you, or directly to the reader
  • Try giving each character a few unique verbal tics, or habitual words
  • Go one step further, and give them catch phrases and stuff
  • Realize that you may have, at most, three or four characters “voices” and refine those
  • Vary your sentence lengths, and play with punctuation
  • Adjust the French/Anglo-Saxon mix

 

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Each of this articles and blog posts has helped me a lot to get at least an idea on how to do better and give each of my characters an individual voice instead of them sounding like me.

 

But most of all I owe my writer friend a HUGE Thank you! He was the reason I started thinking about a problem I didn’t know I have! Thank you, Jim Spencer.

How to Get Paid for Writing Greeting Cards

Picture courtesy of: http://nepaliaustralian.com/2013/04/17/do-you-think-buying-greeting-cards-is-a-waste-of-money-and-paper/
Picture courtesy of: http://nepaliaustralian.com/2013/04/17/do-you-think-buying-greeting-cards-is-a-waste-of-money-and-paper/

 

 

 

Once in a while when I’m looking for a very special greeting card for one of my loved ones, I read through many cards and keep thinking to myself: “I bet I could do something like this as well.”

Now I read an article on “Real Ways to Earn” about how to get paid for writing greeting cards. It clearly states that writing greeting cards isn’t as easy as it looks like. The page clearly states: “Most greeting card companies are very picky about what they will accept and even though what you write doesn’t have to be long, it has to be catchy and engaging.”

The blog post as well offers the link to the submission pages of 7 quite well known greeting card companies as also an interview with greeting card writer Nadia Ali, which I think is very interesting and gives excellent insight into the biz.

For more help and tips the article provides the links to two published and quite successful e-books, about what to avoid when submitting a verse to publishers and “How to Write Humorous Greeting Cards, written by someone who has had success writing humorous greeting cards.

I think to writers who consider a peek into the greeting card business this is a very helpful and supportive blog post and worth being read.

 

http://realwaystoearnmoneyonline.com/2011/11/get-paid-for-writing-greeting-cards.html

greeting-card

 

How to describe the perfect kissing scene

As with most things nowadays, there are even “user manuals” for kissing scenes available online.

I have been reading through quite some of them and created a list that seems to work for me:

 

  1. Where does the kissing take place?
  2. What is the occasion?
  3. What can I do to increase the tension?
  4. Description of the body reaction
  5. End of the kiss

 

 

Let me explain my list a little more detailed:

 

  1. Where?

–       Describe the scenery

–       Are they at an event?

–       Are they surrounded by others?

–       Are they alone?

–       What is around them?

–       A park?

–       A romantic pavilion?

–       A living room, a kitchen, an elevator?

 

  1. Occasion?

–       How many times have they met before?

–       Is it happening on a date?

–       If yes, is it the second date? The third one?

–       Do they know each other well, or are they just about to get closer?

–       Is it a kiss at an anniversary?

 

  1. Increase the tension?

–       Describe how they get closer

–       Describe the closing of the distance

–       Is either one of them closing the distance on their accord?

–       Add some tension and ‘electricity’ to the scene

 

  1. Describe how their bodies react?

–       Talk about how they touch each other

–       Describe how their skin reacts

–       Tell the reader how they smell and taste

–       Give details how they see each other

–       Do they close their eyes?

–       What do they hear?

–       How do their lips feel?

–       Do their tongues play with each other?

 

  1. End of the kiss

–       How do they separate?

–       Do they regret the kiss is over?

–       What did the kiss with their feelings and emotions?

–       How are they getting a certain distance between them again?

 

Now, let’s see what we can do with this list and create a kiss-scene without boring the reader to death:

 

Annabelle was surprised to see Rick had taken her to an open-air concert of her favorite band. She had longed to see this band playing, but she never felt a rock concert being the epitome of a romantic date. Even more, she was taken aback to realize he had bought tickets directly at the stage. The hustle in the front rows would be enormous. The beaming and sparkling of his eyes kept her away from protesting. He seemed happy to have surprised her. The crowd around them surrounded them with noise and heat. Even though she only wore a t-shirt and a thin jacket, there was no chance she could get cold. Rick held her hand to avoid losing her. The concert was epic, and Annabelle’s hand was always held by Rick’s he held her by his side until the band played one of their rare ballads. Surrounded by fans who were jumping and applauding Annabelle felt her face suddenly pressed against Rick’s muscular chest. She took a deep breath. He smelled like honey and chocolate. She had taken a few secret whiffs before and had already thought, if the perfume industry would wish to increase their turnovers, they should have bottled Rick’s smell.

His shirt felt soft on her face, and she couldn’t resist rubbing her cheek on his strong chest, only a little bit. There was a lot of movement around them; eventually, he wouldn’t realize what she did. “What are you doing, Sweetie?” His dark voice murmured into her ear.

It sent a sweet shudder down her spine, and she lifted her face to look at him. His right hand on her hip pulled her closer while his left hand supported her neck and jaw line.

Her entire body length was pressed against his strong frame; her breasts felt nearly flattened. But she did not move, did not want to move. His hot skin nearly burned her own. Her arms and hands found their way underneath his jacket, grabbing fists full of fabric while her entire body screamed in the desire to get even closer.

Rick’s ice blue eyes held her gaze, and he lowered his face to hers.

For only the fraction of a second, his mouth brushed her lower lip, like the touch of butterfly wings. In a sigh Annabelle uttered the almost inaudible sound of a kitten, desperately wanting more. The next touch on her lip was the tender caress of his tongue. Annabelle’s soft lips parted and she let Rick’s demanding tongue touching her own, searching her limits playfully, but she did not feel like limiting him. She let herself sink deeper into this kiss and allowed her tongue to dance vividly with Ricks.

All music, noise, the people around them, disappeared in a whirl, it seemed they were alone in this place. Nothing was important than to taste the sweetness of Ricks lips and tongue. She did not realize the ballad had ended, and they both were displayed on the grand monitor onstage.

Only when the clapping and applauding got more regular and grew whooping, her consciousness focused again onto the present, and she realized where she was. She felt Ricks smile on her lips, and she buried her embarrassed pink face in his shirt.

There was no room to separate her body from his, and Rick wouldn’t have permitted it. He held her close in his arms, and she felt more than she heard his laughter.

 

(Copyright, March 2016, Aurora Jean Alexander)

 

Of course, this is only a try to describe a Kiss scenery “out of nowhere”. It might even be far from being perfect. After all, we haven’t read all about Annabelle and Rick’s relationship. But I think we might have gotten at least an idea of how far this relationship has already developed.

It was fun to introduce you to Annabelle and Rick. If you have an idea on how to pattern this kiss differently, I’d love to read it in the comments.

Or: do you have your list of how to build a kissing scene? It would be interesting to see it.

Picture courtesy of https://www.stihi.ru/2013/11/14/6511
Picture courtesy of https://www.stihi.ru/2013/11/14/6511

How to Name Your Characters

This is such an amazing blog post on how to name your characters. This is great. Thank you so much. Rachel!

Rachel Poli

Naming Your Characters: First Names

Your name is part of what makes you you. That’s no different from the characters in your story.

Some people say that names aren’t important. It’s the description and development throughout the story that creates loveable, relateable characters.

I think names are pretty important as well. Plus, they’re a lot of fun.

There are two ways I come up with names for my characters:

1. I check the meanings behind them.

I love to look up various names and check their meanings. It makes the character feel more one with the story, if that makes any sense.

I think it shows that you put thought into the name of your character. It shows that your character is important to the plot somehow. It’s like the Story Gods have chosen that name for your character because they have a big destiny to fulfill–which is your plot.

For example, in the…

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Writing, distraction and bad moods

Picture courtesy of: http://kwbunyap.deviantart.com/art/terminator-smiley-face-268120576
Picture courtesy of: http://kwbunyap.deviantart.com/art/terminator-smiley-face-268120576

 

 

Can you write when you’re in an extremely bad mood? When you’re distracted, when someone tries to annoy you purposely? I’m talking about turning music on he/she knows exactly you hate and that you can’t concentrate when this shit is screaming and yodeling out of the radio.

Can you concentrate on writing when this person is constantly interrupting your flow by blabbing out about something just MORE than uninteresting or blurting out insults to you in beautiful regularity? 

See? That’s why I have difficulties to get anything halfway useful onto my paper for nearly two weeks. 

I love to be in company; I’m a quite social person. And I don’t even mind writing in an overcrowded Starbucks with background noise. That, at least, can be tuned out! But if someone sits across the table and permanently interrupts me – and if I try to keep the flow, yells insults at me like I’m a 5-year-old for not replying, then I’m having problems. 

I can write and deeply sink into my story, but not when I’m permanently distracted in particular by someone who is not supportive and tells me clearly my writing is just a waste of time and that I better would use the time cleaning my place. 

Sadly moments like this aren’t very helpful to a writer newbie and are only strengthening self-doubts. 

How can I avoid being hurt and distracted like this? How can I guarantee that my writing is still as good as I hope it would be? How is it possible for writers to keep in the flow and in the mood to write something useful if there are people like this around?

Am I the only one facing problems like this?

And if not: How do other writers handle situations like that? 

Is there advice or any helpful hint or trick I can follow to keep my writing on track?  

I don’t want to give up. I have always dreamed of being a writer… and I finally am concentrating and working on my dream… and still it seems there are some artificially produced hindrances who want to destroy that dream – and destroy me. 

Is there a way anyone can help me with? Thank you so much for your support!

 

Picture courtesy of: http://quotesgram.com/bad-mood-quotes/#ksawJintJS
Picture courtesy of: http://quotesgram.com/bad-mood-quotes/#ksawJintJS