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A Character's Voice:
So there's a post that's been around recently mentioning how one of the best ways to give a character a unique 'voice' is to have the voice of a specific person in mind while you're writing dialogue for them. I'd actually noticed myself doing that even before I heard of that method. I just was curious how and if others do this. Do you base them off people you know? Actors? Just give a little anecdote about your experiences with this.
Easily entertainedThe difference between my own normal "voice" (i.e. the one I use for narration) and the mixture of foul language, informal grammar, and pop culture references used by Dr. Isaac Rose and Alice Winters is... about a bottle of stout. Which is ironic given that Dr. Rose literally never drinks, and Alice rarely does.
edited 10th Feb '13 3:59:12 PM by KillerClowns
Ahr riverWhen I joined a LARP group I had to think of literal different voices, so each character would be distinguishable not only in how I talked, but how I held myself. It's an interesting exercise, that's for sure.
One of my characters has been assigned the voice of Michael Fassbender (only a little less Irish) Another character has something kind of like a Colin Firth-esque voice.
I've personally found it to be much more effort then it's worth.
Who you are does not matter.Never. It inhibits their actually developing a unique voice.
"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
Writer's Welcome WagonBe careful with absolutes. Personally, I have never tried matching a character to an actor's voice. However, a peeve of mine is when you're required to find a photo for a RP character. The trouble is finding a suitable picture among a pool of unlimited ones, and the last time I did it, I just choose an almost random picture. Fortunately, no roleplay that I've joined required it since.
patience, young padawanI used to base character voices off of characters from other works. That stopped some time ago, and now their narration style just kind of... happens. I find it difficult to hear their audible voice beyond accents or ineffective generalizations like 'tenor', 'soft-spoken', 'deep', etc., none of which actually help me hear it any better.
Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
Easily entertainedOnly with this thread to consider have I realized how utterly random my mental accent assignment is compared to actual origins. For instance, Rachel, an Iranian-American, has the Egyptian-Arabic-meets-Valley-Girl voice of one of my friends from high school, while my mental perception of her mother Samira's voice has more in common with my Polish Catholic grandmother than anything else. I hear Sigmund, who grew up in California, speaking with an East Coast accent for no good reason whatsoever. And Alice has an oddly Dickensian tilt to the tone I imagine her speaking in for a woman who grew up in Detroit. As long as it doesn't bleed into the actual words I write for them, it shouldn't matter too much. And if it does, that's why we write drafts.
All Guns SparkingI can't say I base anyone's speech patterns or mannerisms off any particular actors (my knowledge of movies is...limited). But even so, I still like to attribute a voice actor to each character; it helps me capture their essence and personality a bit better. (Josh Keaton, Roger Craig Smith, and Patrick Seitz come to mind...though I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Keith David.) Speaking solely in terms of writing technique, I guess in my case it's more about what they say, rather than how they say it (though I dabble in accents and rough speech every now and then). The goal in my eyes is to make each character sound distinct by virtue of their word choice and verbal tics; something might be lost in the long run, but since I'm in a non-audiovisual medium, it's a sacrifice I'll have to make. Diction, punctuation, contractions, formal/informal speech...all that good stuff and more is what I try to focus on. (And something I SHOULD work on, now that I think about it; I've got to level up my game somehow...)
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Street Writing ManWhen designing a character, I start with how they talk. This is a holdover from my days doing both tabletop and live-action roleplaying, where 90-95% of what you will do with the characters you create is talk. Generally my first step is what I call the "screen test"...I'll get a few moments to myself and actually try and act as my character, imagining the situations I plan on putting them in and spouting lines of dialogue I think they'll say. Just to see what the character is going to sound like. Again, its a holdover from my roleplaying days but it has served me well as a writer. I've often maintained that a good test of dialogue is to say it out loud. If it doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Now, I've said this before and a lot of people respond with various flavors of "well, we want characters to talk better than we do in real life", and that is totally true. But dialogue at the least should sound good to the ear of the writer. If it doesn't, how does it stand a chance of sounding good to someone else?
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed. ~Cora M. Strayer~
Ahr riverAlso if you want someone someday quoting your lines, they better sound good when spoken aloud.
Exitus Acta ProbatI don't really have a specific voice in mind when I start thinking about what a character sounds like, but it sort of develops to fit the appearance, nationality etc. Although occasionally I do have a specific voice in mind. For example, Zaran sounds kind of like one girl I knew in high school, tho with a higher pitch and somewhat exaggerated; she already enunciated some words in an unusual way, and with Zaran that trait is more pronounced (if I actually wrote her lines phonetically, they'd probably be pretty hard to read: EES-Senshal LEE, she sOUnds like thEES).
Scary Monsters And Super Creeps And Nice SpritesVoices for my characters tend to pop up at random. I never have a set voice for my character, though I do try to imagine what my character sounds like. So far, the only voice that I have for my character is Talbot, who in my head sounds like Worf.
edited 14th Feb '13 1:14:16 PM by DarkbloodCarnagefang
"I know how I'm going to live forever: Every time I get seriously hurt, a new me will just punch its way out of my ribcage." - Myself
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