|Photo by Anirudh Koul|
From what I can tell, almost every single editor and/or lit. agent has said, or will say, they're looking for fresh or strong voices in books they choose to champion. Good voice will bridge the gap for the audience to think of characters as real people, at least during the time they're reading. I, like many others, connect to some characters on such a level they almost become as real to me as actual people.
Voice helps readers connect to characters.Some voices stay with me long after the story-line has faded from memory. As discussed several times during the Ten Writing Tighteners Series, it's a writer's job to immerse the reader in the story using certain techniques and avoiding pitfalls. One snag, which pulls me out of a story faster than almost anything else, is if the voice doesn't stay true to the character the author has created.
|Photo by perpetualplum|
Vocabulary is important to refining a character's voice. People from the UK could use the bollocks where Americans may say nuts or balls. A girl from England would describe having sex as shagging, but one from America might say screwing. Or if the character is unique, they may have their own words. For instance, sometimes I use the word scrogging for sex. I've only ever known a couple of other people who used that word, so it might be useful to set a character apart as quirky.
World view has bearing on character's voices.What makes up one's world view is determined by many factors. Family dynamics, the way they interact with peers, religion and/or political views, even their physical appearance can affect their world view. It's the author's job to develop their characters fully, even if they never reveal ninety percent of the information to the reader. It helps to have a clear mental picture as to what motivates characters to act in certain ways and think in a particular manner.
Children see and describe the world in completely different terms than adults.
|My daughter Alex, 16 months|
If a character is young, but unusually mature, their voice will be different than an average intelligence character of the same age. However, if the writer goes too far they can make it unbelievable. Take Bella from Twilight as an example. She's a teen, but early in the book Bella remarks that her mom said she was 35 when she was born. So the reader knows she's very mature and smart. When she uses big words and acts more adult-like than your average seventeen year old, it doesn't seem out of place.
Here's an example from my book, DEVASTATION. Gabe is a teen boy, who grew up in rural Texas. He works on a ranch. Here is a passage which I think shows his voice without using actual dialogue.
|Photo by Divine Harvester|
Need rips through me with a force that might be scary if I didn't already know how connected my heart is to hers. Tied up with wax string, duct tape, and bailing wire. There's no way it'll ever come undone, and I don't want it to.
Gabe uses terms he's familiar with to describe his feelings. H doesn't use flowery words a girl might use, nor are they words of a poet--he's not poet after all. He's just a guy who works on a ranch.
Here's a scene from my newest book, SECRETS I KEEP. Lily is twenty-two and Sophie's eight. Lily's POV is actually in the book, but I've added Sophie's reaction here so you can see the difference in their voices.
|Photo by akeg|
Rules are made to be broken.
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Ten Writing Tightener Series includes
1. Filters 10/14/13
2. Dead-weight Words 10/21/13
3. Echoes 10/28/13
4. Sentence Structure Stagnation 11/4/13
5. Redundancy 11/11/13
6. Telling vs. Showing 11/18/13
7. Voice Not Character Appropriate 11/25/13
8. Brevity Blunders 12/09/13
9. Head Hopping 12/16/13
10. Underestimating the Reader 12/23/13