Exercise in Voice


The main character’s attitude affects the voice of a story. Dialogue shows readers how the main character sensors herself in front of others. Narrative lets readers see what a character is really thinking. Those discrepancies help give voice to a story.  It’s in the way characters respond to the world around them.

The movie Shawn of the Dead centers around a horrific event — people turning into zombies. Yet the main character’s response isn’t fear. That’s not Shawn’s disposition toward life, so the story has a lighter, comedic voice. Even though the main character in Forest Gump faces one challenge after another, he never has a defeatist attitude which lends a light, hopeful voice to the story.

My favorite method to find the voice of a new character is to ask them to finish this sentence:

“Life is like a box of chocolates…”

If you watched the “Forest Gump” clip or have seen the movie, you know his mother’s response is “you never know what you’re gonna get.” It reveals her don’t give up, no matter how hard things get disposition toward life.

Rena Moon, the main character in my novel Edge of Truth responds this way: “Life is like a box of chocolates, sharing makes them better even you never find another box.”

Lexi Ripley, the main character in my WIP Blink responds this way: “Life is like a box of chocolates, they’re delicious, but some of them bite.”

How would you characters finish the sentence “Life is like a box of chocolates,  _______”?

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16 comments on “Exercise in Voice

  1. tangynt says:

    This is a pretty cool exercise. Uhm, okay!

    Caleb Dunnelley, the MC in my novel Swayed would say “Life is like a box of chocolates, eating them can get messy but is well worth it in the end.”

    Maxwell, from my WIP E.Y.E.S. would say “Life is like a box of chocolates, some bitter, some sweet, and a lot of nuts.”

    James “Jay” Mitchell in my WIP Heritage Blade, Awakening would say “Life is like a box of chocolates… wtf kind of analogy is that?”

    Ha! That was fun!

  2. Jessie says:

    My shared MC Wren (she’s co-wriiten with the talent of Nikki Katz) would say: Life’s like a box of chocolates, worth savoring every last bite.

  3. Beverly says:

    Eden in my WIP would say “Life is like a box of chocolates, you don’t always know what you’ll get.”
    Lizzie in Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines would say “Life is like a box of chocolates, some you love, some you hate, some disappoint you, others are just right.

  4. kellyhashway says:

    J.B from my MG Fantasy would say, “Life is like a box of chocolates, no matter how much you hope for the caramel, you mostly get the gooey, disgusting ones you have to spit out.”

    Ella from my WIP would say, “Life is like a box of chocolates, most of the chocolates completely suck, but every once in a while you find one you love.”

  5. According to two of my male supporting characters:
    A: Life is like a box of chocolates, by the time you get to them, the only ones left are the ones you can’t stand.
    W: Life is like a box of chocolates, most people pick the creamy sweet ones, but I like the few dark, mysterious ones.

  6. I like this entry into a character’s personality. I’m gunna use it!

  7. Unfortunately, my MC in Sliding on the Edge would have this take: “Life is like a box of chocolates?” This would be followed by something derisive and maybe a bad word or two.

  8. lbdiamond says:

    Life is like a box of chocolates–you never know which one’ll kill ya.

  9. Alice says:

    Interesting and thought provoking.

    Life is like a box of chocolates, half are nuts and the rest are full of sh*t.

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