Character Voice

When I started Don’t Look Back, one of my critique partners got really excited. She said we just had to make sure that my hero and heroine had different voices and the book would be golden. She went on to explain that men think differently than women, that even his internal thoughts and observations needed to sound different from the heroine’s. I knew this, but this was the first time I consciously went into a story thinking about this.

I don’t see it in the book I’m listening to, but maybe it’s listening to a book instead of reading it that makes things pop. The characters all sound the same, and it’s not because there are only two readers. They all use the same kind of language, like, “Yeah, okay, so…” and “Something something much?” Buffy speak, in other words. I have to consciously think about whose POV we’re in. One character’s speech and thoughts are a little more Buffy-esque, but the hero has a lot of those thoughts, too, which is kind of surprising. I mean, he’s this really intelligent older guy, right?

I was reading another book recently where the hero was “delighted” and “thrilled” by the heroine. He was a big, bad spy. I can’t imagine my husband, who’s pretty Beta, using those words, much less an alpha male.

Do you notice these things as you read, or is it just my recent awareness that makes them stand out for me?

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Peggy said...

This is my thought and don't know if correct or not, but I like to have three different voices when I write. Hero, heroine and narrator. I could use the word delighted if it is the narrator's voice, but definitely if I'm in the hero/heroine's head or dialogue I use terminology they would use.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I only notice it if it's out of place.

Stephanie said...

I definitely notice. It really annoys me when characters say things that don't jive with my perceptions of them. Like a good 'ol redneck boy telling a girl she looks stunning or fabulous, when what he'd really say is hot or maybe just wow.


Gina Black said...

I notice it and it keeps me from enjoying the characters.

Shesawriter said...

My character voices don't really come on strong until after the first draft. By then I know them and can go back and fine tune.

When all the characters sound the same in books I buy, it throws me off.


Toni Anderson said...

I totally notice this, but I think sometimes it is easier to edit the guy's voice later (I mean you're in his head, but second draft is where you can really turn him into a bloke).

This is a problem I have because I usually have Brit and American H/h so I have voice nationality differences to deal with too. Ugh. All good fun!

Silma said...

You mean if I've noticed men are talking more like women? Oh yeah... *lol* I read a novel in which the hero talked with words like "delighted" and could make colors like "periwinkle blue". I thought he was gay until I realized he was the hero. Sorry, none of the guys I know talk about like this hero did.

MJFredrick said...

Amen, Silma! LOL on periwinkle blue!


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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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