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08.08.2011 18:37    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Elements  Fiction Writing  Writing  Writing Characters  Writing Craft  Writing Tips  Writing Voice      Tags: characters  voice  debra dixon  

However interesting or exciting a character may be, the character isn't real to the reader until he speaks and creates a cadence or rhythm of his own. Readers "hear" what they see with their eyes. They actually hear the words in our mind as if they were spoken aloud. That phenomenon makes your character's unique voice a necessity.


If your main character sounds like every other character in your book or like any character in any book, you will have failed to bring him to life for the reader. You must define your character's speech patterns in the same way you define him as a person.


  • Does he speak in simple or complex sentences?
  • Is he witty or serious?
  • How does he pause and breath when speaking?
  • What influence does his background have on his speech?


If you establish your character's voice as carefully as you establish his physical being, you can convey emotion by a simple change of phrasing that alerts the reader to danger, humor, regret.


A character with a clear voice needs no adverb tags to clue the reader as to *how* he says a line of dialogue. (i.e. "I hate you," he said angrily.) In a carefully set scene, the tension will build naturally.



The following passage of dialogue is not preceded or followed by adverbs which explain how the character is saying the words, yet every reader who has read this book has a clear image of the character, the rhythm of the words, and her inflection.

"I'll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day."

(Scarlett O'Hara, from Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND)

About the Author

Debra Dixon a bestselling author currently at work on her eleventh book, and has served as Vice-President for Romance Writers of America, an organization of over 9,000 writers. In 2003 RWA honored Debra with the national Emma Merritt Service Award, recognizing her contributions to writers and the organization.


Her published work has been awarded the Georgia Romance Writers' "Maggie," A Little Romance Magazine's ROMY, Colorado's Award of Excellence, the Kiss of Death Award for best suspense of the year from RWA's Mystery/Suspense Chapter, and she's received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Innovative Series Romance. Her published books have been recognized as finalists for the Virginia Holt Medallion, Romantic Times Best Loveswept, and the National Readers' Choice Award for romance fiction.


Visit Debra at: http://www.debradixon.com

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