Awaken the senses, yours and your character’s.
There is a difference between the voice of your character and your voice. Your character’s should reveal where she was born, her education, her profession and her special way of looking at life.
Your voice is developed over the years in much the same way, but you should keep the two separate. The way you write your stories will reveal who you are. Read books by authors who have a strong voice and notice the difference between their characters’ voices and theirs. And notice how they reveal how they feel about the world around them and the people in it. Let your reaction to senses help you develop a voice.
1. Sight – What do you see or think of when you look at a tree? Not just bark and leaves. How about a sunset? Look at one and talk about it into a recorder. Don’t forget to include your gut reactions to what you see.
2. Taste – Is it delicious, sweet, bitter, oily, chocolaty? Think of ways to describe taste and how you feel about it.
3. Smell – Smells can be heady, or unpleasant, overpoweringly sweet or gross. A beautiful red rose or garbage cooking in the noonday heat. Again, your reactions and the mood will add flavor.
4. Touch – A splintered board, a slimy fish, the cool skin of a snake. A child’s cheek. Again, you will react differently depending upon the situation at the time.
5. Sound – A sonic boom or a jet, the purr of a kitten, the bark of a dog, the blare of a car horn, a mother crying. The soothing tones of a loving mother’s voice or the grating shout of an abusive parent evoke opposite reactions and feelings. Go with them.
6. Emotion – Try to record how your emotions come into play in any given situation. While taking a daily walk or talking to a child or senior citizen, while doing something dangerous, frightening, soothing, boring. Uncover your voice.
Emotions enter into your writing and affect your voice. Without one you cannot have the other. Stories need an emotional evolution, a thematic focus. Character development awakens the emotions just as emotions reveal character.
When it comes to the voice of your character, be sure the emotion fits her or doesn’t, as she begins to grow and change. The locale, the situation and the specific information in your book all should evoke emotion. If your reader relates to the character, she will feel what the character feels. Universal emotions speak to everyone’s inner child. The pacing of your novel should highlight and compliment emotions.
Your voice will come from somewhere deep inside your psyche. You could get bloody digging it out. It will come from all you know, all you have ever been, and it will be as unique to you as your fingerprints or DNA. You must not copy someone else’s or you will fail. Watch, listen, touch and experience in every way what goes on around you. And then listen to the inner voice within that lets you know how these things affect you. Put a little piece of yourself in your writing and your voice will surface.
Listen for the voice in others and you will learn to hear your own.

About veldabrotherton

For thirty years I've been a writer. Publication of my work began in 1994 . I'm pleased to have recently settled with Oghma Creative Media as my publisher. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. I recently signed a contract to write westerns again, and what fun it's been working on the first one. If I weren't writing my life wouldn't be so exciting.
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  1. LeAynne says:

    Thanks for this post, Velda. Your second to last paragraph, about one's own voice, is so helpful to me. Made it more clear what voice is, and how I can further develop mine. Thanks, again.

  2. LeAynne, sorry to be late in responding to your comment. I'm glad it helped. You have a voice that comes through well in your writing.

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