Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Editing frenzy: Check your character's voice

There are a lot of templates out there for character creation which include all the basic ingredients about who your character is. That is actually his ID card and extras.  To tell you the truth, I never use any of those. I don't have a clue when are my characters birthdays, I'm not throwing a birthday party for them. I don't need their zodiac signs or their main address and most of them don't even need a last name. I find these things rather obnoxious. 
Someone told me regarding Demon Soul's cover: "When I saw it, I though your characters were Japanese." 
And so what? My characters don't have a nationality, they don't need one, they are not checking at the airport so no passport. But hell you're gonna know if they are a demon or not because they are going to be ranting about it. 

Fitting characters in little boxes is a bad idea because you might always want to change that later if you want to have a party and you need an excuse but it's November and you're character is Taurus that's not going to be good, even if you said he was Taurus just to fill up some more words. Use the information you have on them when you need to and beside when you meet people they don't tell you straight away everything about then unless you are reviewing their CV to hire them.

My point is. Stop with the useless details and get to the point already. Surprise! surprise! To build a character, I told you before to make them realistic, you need to single out what makes them unique. 
The hair colour, the eyes colour that's just details and fill up. I love my green eyes but I don't let them define me. 

So here is one thing that your character should have and that's his particular voice, because of course you are going to write some dialogue. 

To take an extreme case of very well define character, take Francis Dolarhyde in Thomas Harris's Red Dragon. The guy is avoiding every "S" sound he can get around because of a malformation of his mouth. Seriously, I'm not saying that every single character needs to be that extreme but make sure that all your characters don't talk as "you" do.

To do that, there are several things that you can use (today we are learning by example):

A gesture that the character does before talking. If you read Ice Princess by Janine De Jesus  you'll see Sibyl liking her lips. She also likes to use movie quotes which is taken later on by another character while her friend can't get what she is talking about. 
If you look at Demon Soul and the rest of my demon novels. Isakael is always having a strange way of walking as if his wings were too heavy for him, he also always complain about being an angel.
Use a particular word that one of your character repeated all the time. Azazel recently like to say "Damn" a lot. 
Use your characters defaults as well. If your character is proud or vain that's going to show when they move and talk. 

Then when you revise your draft, make sure it's all consistent. 

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