Influences on Voice In Fiction


If you’ve been following the posts on Voice In Fiction, you probably noticed each author approached the interview questions in different ways. Some used humor, some used inspiration, some gave succinct answers, while others gave more complex responses. You get a feel for their voice in the way they answer questions. Characters are the same way. Take this simple event for example,

The cat fell off the fence.

You:  What happened to the cat?
Colt:  Darn thing, must’ve tried to jump and didn’t make it.  Shouldn’t of been up there scratching my fence to begin with.

versus

You:  What happened to the cat?
Lexi:  Poor little sweetie.  Her tail started twitching, then a bird flew into that tree. The calico chased it, but lost her footing. She okay?

versus

You:  What happened to the cat?
Zach:  What cat? You have something to eat around here?

Many things influenced the way these characters answered: education, gender, age, demographics, geographic location, and most importantly, in my opinion, mood + individual perceptions of the events. Isn’t that what novels are based on, how individual(s) respond to a major event? The book Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding wouldn’t be effective if Bridget were an eternal pessimist. And can you imagine Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger with an optimistic Holden Caulfield? Wouldn’t work.

The one common response the authors interviewed for Voice in Fiction gave is to know your characters. Know how your characters interact with one another, how they handle emotions, their history, their goals… Still not sure where to start? Here’s a link to interview questions. This link is for character development. Here’s a link to the article Finding Your Voice in Writing.

The characters in the examples above are from my YA Paranormal BLINK. How might  your characters respond to this simple event?

Do you have an online source to help others find their writing voice and/or get to know their characters?

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12 comments on “Influences on Voice In Fiction

  1. tangynt says:

    I love these lil exercises~, they always make me laugh. In a good way! Let’s see…

    You: What happened to the cat?
    Caleb: I think it’s under the bed. Something’s under the bed…

    You: What happened to the cat?
    Scarlet: Mmm? Sorry, you say something?

    You: What happened to the cat?
    Jay: …it wasn’t yours, was it?

  2. A: What happened to your cat?
    W: (Grinning, shrugs) You, know, things come, things go.
    A: No, really.
    W: Gave it to the sideshow people up on the boardwalk. It was getting hairs in my computer keyboards.

  3. kellyhashway says:

    Ooh, this is fun. Okay here it goes:

    What happened to the cat?
    Ella: Are you seriously asking me about a freakin’ cat right now?

    What happened to the cat?
    Avery: It must have been trying to get away. I’ll go find it and make sure it’s not hurt.

  4. That’s such a great point! OK, I’ll go:

    What happened to the cat?
    A: It fell off the fence? Is it dead yet? Because I could use a dead cat…

    What happened the the cat?
    E: Don’t worry. It’s safe.

  5. What a hoot! I actually laughed out loud. If I had to guess, I’d say we have some paranormal characters in the mix.

    Even with such few words, the voice comes through. It’s enough to make me want to read the next line of dialogue.

    Good work. Look forward to reading more.

  6. Jessie says:

    I liked your insight that how characters respond to a major even shows a ton about them.
    What happened to the cat?
    C: Oh, err. Duff! Get back over here, boy.

  7. lbdiamond says:

    Great post!

    You: What happened to the cat?
    Justin: Look, there’s a whole legion of guards chasing me right now. I don’t have time to worry about some cat.

    You: What happened to the cat?
    Sammie: There’s a kitty?! Where? Where? Let’s got find her! *hops up and down*

    You: What happened to the cat?
    Alex: What do I care? I only drink human blood.

  8. Knowing your characters inside and out – it’s tough, time-consuming, but really the only way to go. Often, I don’t know them until I’ve written a whole book about them. Sometimes, I get them right away. Strange!

  9. @lbdiamond, great way to convey age with Sammie’s response.

    @Susan, can relate.

  10. What happened to the cat?
    Yours or mine?

    What happened to the cat?
    Truck.

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