Voice is an element that can make or break a book.
Even if a book’s premise isn’t fresh or if the story hits on a few overdone scenarios, clichés, and tropes, voice will have readers flipping through the pages, wondering what will become of their beloved characters. On the flipside, if a book has a twisty plot and amazing world building, but the character’s voice falls flat, readers are very likely to go in search of another story.
If you’re anything like me—scouring Twitter and the Internet to learn what books are selling and what industry professionals can’t help but to talk about—you will likely have noticed that many agents and editors rave online about voice. Which had me wondering: how do you define voice? More importantly, how can you ensure your character has a distinct one?
Character Voice: The Basics
At its core, character voice is simply a distinct personality—where the character is so three-dimensional, they practically lift off of the page. They have unique (and sometimes conflicting) desires and goals with a history/backstory bringing them to where they are today.
Think of a friend, relative, or family member who, in any situation, can make you laugh. Now, dig deeper. Why is that? Is it the timing of their comments? The delivery? Or, perhaps, is it the distinctive arrangement of words—saying things in such a way that always surprises you?
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