Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creating a Consistent Voice

As I revise my novel, I'm trying to create a consistent voice for my main character. Some of the strategies I'm using include:

1. Adopting a consistent style of writing throughout the novel that fits with my character’s background. While I’m not using a dialect (since I often find them annoying to read), my character does have certain phrases and grammatical structures that are typical of her (made up) societal group.

2. Making a conscious effort to write more simply. Though I tend to be sparse when it comes to description, I do tend to use long phrases, which may be more suitable for older age groups. This time, I’m trying to keep my sentences middle-grade short and sweet.

3. Taking time to think as my character would. Writing every day helps me slip into my character’s mind more easily. Even so, I sometimes have to stop and think about her experiences and background, to decide if what I’ve written really fits. I've had to cut sections of my novel or change elements that don't make sense in light of her past experiences or cultural background. I guess this is why we need to know as much about our characters as possible.


  1. Good luck! I think MG is harder to find that perfect voice and consistency!

  2. I've found that getting sentence length right can be a real challenge, especially for younger readers. But it's important for readers of all ages, really. I've found that writing for undergraduates is completely different from writing for adults/scientists, and one of the easiest ways to make material more accessible is to write shorter sentences.

    Good luck getting your MG voice, although it sounds as though you've got some great techniques for consistency. :)

  3. I agree with Laura, MG voice is hard. You don't want to be too precocious but then you don't want the voice to be too naive either.

    But I know that you'll do it!

    Good luck. :)

  4. I wrote my first manuscript (YA) in 2008. I started working on revisions this year and discovered that my main character had not voice! After months of rewriting, I decided to write the whole thing from scratch. I wrote the first chapter two days ago and suddenly my character had found her voice. Maybe it's because I know her better, I don't know...

  5. Tessa, I do think that as you get to know characters better, their voices become stronger.

    Laura and Karen, I used to think that my natural writing voice was close to MG, but now I'm not so sure. The more MG novels I read, the better sense I get of what makes a strong MG voice.

    Alison, I have to make a conscious effort to think about my sentences, and whether they are going to be too long. Sometimes I end up cutting description to make them shorter and more direct.

  6. I do find different voices for different manuscripts. It took me so long to figure it out and be consistent, but I think I've really got it now.

    In the past, I was told my sentences were too similar in length, so I need to vary them.

  7. Theresa, sentence length is something I need to remember to look at. I think I vary lengths naturally, but sometimes I find that what I think I'm doing is not what actually happens.


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