Character Voices

Yesterday (Monday) when I had a couple of minutes between customers and filling to breathe, I thought about what the voices of my characters were.  When you have as many different characters running around in your head like I do, this can get very distracting.  Distracting enough that I lost track of what i was doing for a moment or two.

Don’t worry,  medications did not get mixed up.  I literally sat my tote down with the hand scanner and forgot where they were.  They were right on a shelf beside me so i could get down on the floor to find a specific medication.

Just a ‘little’ (meaning big) distracting.

A lot of mine find their own voices as I develop them for their role.  Take Sabrina, the heroine of Society of Night and Lies, she has a refined, lady-like voice, not snobbish but gentle, and kind of motherly in tone.  If she could sing, she’d be a soprano.   She’s the kind of person who enunciates so people can understand what she’s saying and does not mumble.  That’s the kind of voice she has.  It’s pretty much been the same since I first created her years ago.  If she has an accent, it is a light one that isn’t too noticeable… unless you make her mad then it can be heard. Think New Yorker-ish when she’s mad.

Jason, however, I have only pondered what he sounds like since he isn’t one of my creations but that of a very dear friend who has allowed me to use him and other characters of his in the world he created.  He deserves a lot of credit for the beginnings of this book in progress. To me, the character Jason sounds like someone who lives on the streets.  He sounds tough and doesn’t have the best of grammar.  Kind of the stereotype from Detroit.  Probably has a little bit of rhythm to how he speaks like he’s semi-rapping.

If Jason’s creator reads this, please tell me how close I am to how I think he’d sound.

Then, of course, there’s Minxie, Sabrina’s old friend.  It took some time while I was writing to come up with her voice.  She has a husky, almost deep for a woman, voice with a heavy Russian type accent.  While she may look like a knock out, she sounds like she could knock you out.  There’s a mysterious quality to how she says things.  A woman I work with has the very accent I imagine for Minxie and she has the same speech mannerism; talking to make sure she is understood with her accept.  I just love hearing this lady speak every chance I get.

For the villains of my story, I hear a British accent for the leader Society though rough with age.  I’m not trying to stereotype anything in my writing, but this is how I hear him in my head.  The other, the more aggressive and younger, Dern has a harsh, muddled voice that could be from anywhere in the northern States.  His accept is just that mixed up, like he wants people to keep guessing so he can find the advantage.

These are the most developed characters in all my stories I have noticed.  Their voices come out as they gain depth and reality in my mind.  The things I give them to help form who they are adjust how they sound.

There are some well-developed characters in my head that just don’t have dynamic voice.   Take, for instance, Karina in Black Friday.  She doesn’t really have a voice and yet she’s the one telling the story.  What I imagined for her was a neutral sounding voice as if it were coming from another while she signed.  Then it came to me, she doesn’t have to remain a mute.  She’s going to go through a lot of stuff for her people and quite a bit will affect her personally before the end of book one.  Boy, did it affect her.  Read the book to find out.

Coming up with these different voices and tone, I actually paid attention to how the people around me spoke.  Not just the accents of where they are from, but the mannerisms in their speech.  I listen for the same things in the movies I watch.  It has gotten to where I pick out a fake accent from the natural ones most of the time.

Like the goofy, Southern, farm boy, way Mater speaks in the movie Cars.  He sounds like a real backwoods hick and the comedian who does the voice sounds very similar when not on stage as that persona.  Same with so many others out there.  Then you have the fake sounding ones which stand out and rub people the wrong way.  I won’t say who because this woman is well-loved on Food Network but her initials are P.D..

This all says so much where a person is from.  How we sound plays a big part in who we are whether we know it or not, so our characters have to be the same.  Not many backwoods hicks would get the head CEO job sounding like Mater, nor would a refined, proper sounding voice of Mary Poppins be found hauling hay or in a wrasslin’ ring.  Actions also play a huge part, but how they speak says just as much.

I kind of wandered off subject here just a bit, but it all goes together.  But, if you want to know something, trying to write how an accent sounds is difficult and makes a spell checker go crazy.  Trying to describe how that same accent sounds  but not as difficult as writing it and the spell checker doesn’t try to break itself as much.  That is how it is to make them sound alive in your mind as you read.


One thought on “Character Voices

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