Unique Voices

Writing for me is the most fun when its effortless.  The words just appear on the screen like magic.  You look up and realize that it’s 3 hours later and you’ve written 1200 keepable words.

Writing is most effortless when you know both the place and the characters intimately.  You don’t have to break up your flow to find out how far the river is from the freeway bridge in Cincinnati, or stop to figure out how Joe Smith would react when his girlfriend points a gun at him.

Of course, you can’t have every novel take place in your hometown.  Well, if you write a multi-volume fiction series, I guess you can.  The other good part of that is you can go to the restaurant that just opened up downtown, put a scene there, and claim it as a tax deduction for research.  But for those of us who write stand-alone novels, that would get really boring.

And the character that you know the most about is you.  But likewise, you can’t have every character be you.  Your readers would gag.

But they’re so much fun to write.  Stop it.  Get to work.

A compromise for me is a character that’s bright, knowledgeable, and quick-witted with a touch or sarcasm/cynicism thrown in.  The danger is that it’s REAL easy to have them slip right into MY voice rather than their own.  Fortunately, my writing partner SusanH understands the danger and is vigilant against it.  “Rick’s voice or Rusty’s” commonly appears in her “green edits.”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  IF YOU’RE A SERIOUS WRITER AND DON’T HAVE A WRITING PARTNER, GET ONE.  AND NO, YOU CAN’T BORROW MINE.

I had a hard time writing Walter in Strange Bedfellows because he was so unlike me.  I have a lot of flaws, but milquetoast is not one of them.  The character in that novel that was the compromise character (bright, knowledgeable, etc) was Morgan.  And it wasn’t difficult to keep her separate from me for physiological reasons as well as a fundamental difference in beliefs and/or code of ethics.

Rick had the danger of becoming me.  So I intentionally tried to make him different as well (plus I had SusanH to help).  The biggest difficulty in Avalon, S.C. was keeping Sabrina from sounding like Rick sounding like me.   IF YOU EVER READ A PASSAGE WHERE THAT HAPPENS, be sure to comment on it or drop me an email.

Sir Kay sounds a lot like me.  I’m dealing with it.  He also sounds a lot like Bradley Schuster who sounds a lot like me.  Very few of you have read Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail, and it looks like it’s still a ways from publication.  So it’s not an immediate problem.  But perhaps it’s just one I’m just putting off for the future.

Aha!  Procrastination!  Sounds like me as well.

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5 thoughts on “Unique Voices

  1. I know when the main male character sounds like me. Sometimes when he and someone else are having a wordplay fest, the other character takes on some of my voice as well. I try to avoid it, but am not always successful in recognizing it. Fortunately, I have SusanH to green edit those failures. I suppose I could loan her to you for a short while, but you can’t have her permanently!!!

  2. How did I miss this post? Oh yeah. It came when I wasn’t breathing much–that’s a slight exaggeration–and my Inbox was climbing toward 500 emails. But sorry that I missed it.

    Bruce, I’m SusanH, but I won’t go into your question since it’s been discussed since this post appeared.

    Re voice, the voice that is the easiest in my WIP is the one that sounds like me, my female lead’s sister. What is the hardest for me is making sure there is range in my female lead’s voice without having her “not sound like herself.” I don’t think she should sound the same when she is happy, worried, ticked off, turned on, etc. But at the same time, she should always sound “like her.”

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