Once again, I’ve picked a tricky subject for today.
Most agents’ blogs that I’ve visited mention the importance of voice at least once. Each voice must be unique. Only the character’s.
But what is voice?
Take a look at yourself. Your thoughts. Do you have favorite sayings or phrases that come out when you think and speak? Do you have a way of wording your thoughts? Is that way at least a little different from others? Do you have a world view that’s a little different from everyone else?
Check your pulse. If it’s beating, I’m sure that the answers to all of the above will be Yes.
The way that you think, what you think about, the words you use. That’s your voice (in the literary sense). How you speak to people in social interactions. How you express your opinion and how you react when people agree or (tellingly, in my opinion) disagree. That’s your voice.
That makes the importance of voice in books make more sense, doesn’t it? We want our characters to be as authentic as possible. But no matter how much time you spend studying their personality traits and motivations. No matter how accurately they react to the situations in the plot.
If the story is not told in the Main Character’s own voice, nothing will ring true. Because the person doing the talking isn’t the person going through the main story.
So how can we get an authentic voice?
I use two ways.
One is through interviewing the characters who might be called to give me their point of view. The way they react to my questions can give me a clear idea about how they should sound.
The other thing I do is to act on the page. I try to become that character and write down what he/she thinks. My issue with this method is that my voice gets mixed in, because the line of separation between me and the character is blurred.
Because of that, I prefer to interview and listen to the character telling me things. It just works better for me.
How do you get your voice authentic?