Writing Tips and Tricks
Del Rey Jean
Third: Tying Voice and Characters Together
Before I actually start, I want to say this: I do not by any means think I am the best at writing. By making these advice posts, I am not telling you this is the distinct way you need to do things in order to write well. We all have our own ways of telling our stories. This is what works when I write, and that is all that I am sharing because I am sure there is someone out there who likely runs close enough to find this useful. I hope. If you have other ways that help you, comment below or send me a private message, I would love to hear further techniques and styles.
I wanted to show an example of what I mean by ‘knowing your characters and connecting to them’. You need to be able to use their voice as opposed to your own, which is why it is critical to understand both your voice and your character. It is important that once you have your writing voice understood, you know how it will shift as you dive into the mind of one of your characters. This is going to tie together the first 2 pieces of advice that I have given so far. (First, Second)
I had this idea a long time ago where I wanted to write a story that comes after the heroine wins her battle. She’s already been on her adventure, met her new battle buddies, lost people, killed people, saved the world, and now she is back home in a normal life trying to get used to the drudgery of high school again. All while dealing with the after math of everything that she went through.
Here is an example of 2 versions of that exact prompt. Tell me what the differences are between the two. What can you discern about that character in each? Are they the same person, or has the character changed from one to the other? Now the real question is this: which version is more realistic in your opinion? Comment below or send me a private message, and let me know your thoughts::
So, I guess I’m a hero or something. I kind of saved the world about a week ago, but the only person that knew about it is dead.
Technically, I’m a delinquent and a drama queen because I ran away from home after a conveniently timed fight sent me raging out of the house in the middle of the night; or so the story goes.
Little does anyone know that in fact, I was stolen by a maniac. Then rescued by a second maniac that was a little nicer and a lot funnier. Then given a sword, a crash course in how to use it without chopping off one of my own limbs, and sent after the fellow who kidnapped me.
Incidentally, he was trying to unleash some magic crap-tastic-ness on the planet that would essentially destroy everything, but it would give him incredible power. I guess it never occurred to him that he would have literally nothing to do with that power if he killed everyone to attain it. Aren’t powerful bad guys supposed to covet world domination and the enslavement of every living being on the planet? Someone forgot to tell him that.
Anyways, now that I’m home after months of being ‘missing’, I’m grounded for basically life, I have no friends, and I have a math exam in ten minutes that I didn’t study for.
On the plus side, I’m never late for class no matter how congested the busy halls get. Quietly, I clutch my books to my chest, and easily pick my way through the small gaps in the crowd. With all my senses now tuned into a new level of conscious, no one can touch me; not even in passing. I swiftly shift out of reach once limbs come within a breath of my skin, languidly moving with the sea of bodies.
“Ever since you came back, you’ve started to glare like our grandpa,” came my sister’s voice as we walked.
I don’t tell her that it’s a weary, tired expression pulled down from the memories of that disappearance. The story says that I ran away from home, simple and distinct. There are rumors still speculating about what happened during my absence, but none of them can possibly fathom the magnitude of garish nightmares that walked back with me. No amount of drugs or sex or wild parties could haunt a person to the point of shifting their entire personality a hundred and eighty degrees.
It feels strange not to have a sword attached to my hip anymore. I feel naked without the thick leather armor that once saved my flesh from piercing claws and that strange miasma that had oozed from that man’s skin.
Screams still pulsate behind my eyes while I frown in response to this stranger’s statement. I live with her, I’ve known her my whole life, but I am not the same girl who grew up teasing her and pulling her braids. When I look at her, I see one more innocent life that I have to protect; one more that I already saved once.
I shut my eyes tight and must stop walking for a moment. In the stillness, she is there worried.
“Don’t be mad,” she says ignorantly, as if her comment could upset me, “you’ve been through a lot, I think you’re allowed to be unhappy sometimes.”
“That’s not it,” I hear myself whisper, touching only the edge of the truth and letting it slice my palm while I admit slowly, “it isn’t a hateful glare. We always thought he was angry with us, remember? That isn’t it at all. It wasn’t directed at us. He simply has the eyes of someone who has seen many things, and he knows the true nature of our world. It hurts him.”
She remains silent, and I know she doesn’t understand. During my misadventure, I had picked up mannerisms that sound like riddles and poems when I try to explain myself. I blame it on the madman who fought beside me in that battle. He had saved my life, then thrust a sword into my hands and asked me to save the world at his side like it was the most mundane thing he could have suggested.
I clench my fists before more memories can surface, gulp down a deep breath when they scratch at the door I locked in my mind, and allow my eyes to open again. I keep walking, ignoring my sister’s frown. Don’t look at me with pity in those eyes, damnit. It is you that I should pity in your ignorance.
This is how you differentiate characters. The same base character, the same situation, the same writer, yet two completely different stories.
Of course, both are also two very different and valid writing styles as well, but I feel that with the first version, one must be careful with when it’s used. I can’t write that style and be taken seriously. Some people can, though.
The point of this particular post is to give you a stark example of how to manipulate your voice to meet your characters and connect to them. I hope this helped if there was confusion before. Leave me a comment for any discussion, concerns, questions, further prompts/requests, or more. What works for you? How do you differentiate between characters and what kind of voice do they have? Is it similar to your own?