Consistent Voice

I’m sorry I skipped last Thursday’s Read-Through post. It’s not that I don’t have plenty to talk about. I’m loving Holly Black’s Red Glove (have you read White Cat yet? No? What are you waiting for?!), and a few weeks ago I finished Little Brother by Cory Doctorow – another winner. Between the migraines, the allergies, the beginning of a cold, and some extra mommy duties, I just didn’t have the energy. I hope to be back later this week, depending on the duration of this dang cold.

Brief clarification: RocketMan is my husband (he’s aerospace-engineer-smart). Was looking for a nickname for #1 Son. What about A-Read?

In other news, did you all check out my interview on Cally Jackson’s blog and this one on Akoss Ket’s blog? These are two neato writers who deserve a peek. So go check them out and come back. I’ll wait.

Now for this week’s post on voice:

I’m still revising Sophie, but I finally reached a point where it’s coming along more quickly than it had a few weeks ago. I survived the above-mentioned complications, and then finished the structural, character and plot changes (for this draft).

Now I’m working on voice – making sure each character’s voice is consistent, yet distinct from all the other characters. Honestly, I never gave the differences between my characters’ voices much thought – I just wrote them as I heard them in my head – before Tanya Reimer, the writing friend who gave me the idea to write a scene in a different POV, suggested this voice exercise.

She suggested I highlight each character’s dialogue in a different color and then read one color at a time. When you’re focused on just one character’s dialogue, it’s easy to see (and hear, if you read it aloud) what doesn’t fit the voice. Even when I’m not reading aloud, I hear the dialogue in my head and I add accents and intonations. That, too, helps me be sure the dialogue fits the character’s voice.

Another cool thing about this is that you can see the balance of dialogue and action/description/narrative in your manuscript. And it’s colorful!

So, I’ve finished voice read-throughs and revisions for Sophie and Mireille (Sophie’s closest friend in the past), and now I’m on Louise (Sophie’s sister in the past). The weird thing is, I can’t wait to get to each character. I’m actually excited to revise – which is unusual for me as I prefer writing the first draft. Then again, I’m excited to be closer to finishing this manuscript.

What gets you excited about revising? Have you ever tried looking so specifically at voice? What do you think of A-Read as a nickname for #1 Son/awesome reader whose first name starts with an A?

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Consistent Voice

  1. Sarah

    I love revising based on great feedback–it’s so energizing to have new ideas and gives me the courage to change things I might have left alone otherwise. Great advice on voice–I’ll have to give that a try!

  2. So exciting, you’re almost there! It’s a greta idea as well, I may try it myself. You really want readers to know who is talking by what they say not just by you pointing it out. Great name for him by the way 🙂

  3. So glad it worked for you! Seeing all that colour gives a quick visual about who dominates your story too! Does so and so just talk too much? Not enough? And it’s so easy to see when you slip.

    It’s a great technique, but I can’t take the credit for anything more than passing on the advice to others. I worked it into my revision checklist from a combination of authors and agents and it’s evolved into that with technology. Many years ago, I used to print it up and highlight with marquers while reading it out loud to my dog!!!

    The thing I love best about revising is the rereads. I just love to read it once my checklist is complete to see the improvements.

    I used to settle for first drafts too and move on to the next project, (who doesn’t love a first draft, eh?) but now that my writing has matured, it’s worth the time to rework it.

    Glad to see the idea getting used by others and passed on! How exciting.

  4. I like revising knowing I’m getting closer to the vision I have for the story but the process is a little torturous for me!

  5. Thanks for the shout out Vicki. 🙂
    I think A-Read is cool, maybe you can make it cooler by writing it “A.Reed”? (looks like it could be a real name but is not) 🙂
    I made note of this revising technique for future use. I know I’m going to need it for my MG novel.
    I hope it will get me exited about revisions when I get there because I’m not a power reviser at all. Actually I get distracted a lot by new shiny ideas when I’m revising a novel (which is not always good).

  6. the thought of a finished manuscript is what motivates me! i LOVE the idea of coloring each character’s dialogue to check for consistency and equal quantity. thanks so much to you and tanya! christy

  7. Gail

    Good interview. I still have to read the other one. A-Read for #1 sounds like a good nickname. Does he like it? Love the idea of high lighting different voices in different colors-helps to make it concrete and alive. Thank you for sharing. Hope you feel better soon!

  8. Voice is so important. I’m working on a story with extremely distinctive voices. I’ve had to go through to ensure I do not screw it up. 🙂 Great post.

  9. Voice isn’t really my major problem in any of my works, that I know of anyway. I’ve got other problems to focus on though. LOL.

    I’ve got that first Holly Black book in my TBR list, but haven’t got a copy yet 🙂

  10. I will admit to the characters voices in my head being all their own, of course that is likely just my years of Theatre doing that to me 😉 BTW look for an award for you on my blog very soon 😉

  11. Oh, excellent idea – highlighting each voice in a different color. I’ll have to try that. I usually force…um…ask my niece or sister to read one character out loud as I read the other. It’s interesting to see how someone else reads it or stumbles over it. Great post! 😀

  12. I love the idea of color-coding dialogue by character and then checking for the right phrasing. Thanks for passing on the tip!

  13. What a great idea for looking at dialogue and analyzing voice! I’m going to have to try that.

  14. I love the color coded dialogue idea–I might just use that when I start editing for voice.

    Speaking of which… I recall a while back you mentioned you’d be interested in reading one of my WIP’s. Sometime this summer (probably toward the end) I’ll be looking for betas for the one I just finished (it’s no where near ready for human consumption yet). I’d love to have your feedback if you’re interested!

  15. Hey, that’s a great idea!

  16. Different highlights for different character’s dialogue is a great idea. I think I hear each character’s voice distinctly, but I should make sure!

  17. Oh, now there’s a neat idea – highlighting dialogue in different colours. I might need to try that – I’m always tweaking to make sure my characters have voices distinct from each other.

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