Thursday, October 7, 2010

You Got Style, Baby

I’m back in school and working on the last of my degree. I hope to be finished by the end of this year of school. (Oh please, please. *fingers crossed*)

I‘m also in the middle of revising my dystopian TORN.

Plus, I post here on my blog. Which I love.  (Love ya blogger buddies!)

The funny thing is…when I write—in my book, for my school projects, on my blog—my tone of writing changes. Yup, my voice changes.

I try to be articulate when I write for school, making sure every word sounds elaborate and knowledgeable. (For example: “The obscure editorial's statistics do not calculate in favor of variation. Therefore, I conclude that it does not work.”)

When I’m writing in my book, I put myself in my character’s head, writing only words and thoughts that she would say. (Like, “Her voice was sweet. Too sweet. And she blinked at him way too many times for her eyeballs to be moistened.” She's a little jealous.)

On my blog, I write in more of myself. I like fun light things, so that’s how I write. (Plus I always add in a little random thought here and there, which sometimes makes no sense at all. But I can do it, because I’m a writer—at least that’s my excuse.)

See? My writing style changes.

I think as writers, when we are looking  more than one character in our wip, we need to look at the style and voice we want to give them. Because no two people are alike, neither are our characters or their circumstances. They talk differently, they act differently. That’s how you can differentiate them and give them style. 

What do you do to make your characters’ voices and style different?

p.s. Thanks Carolyn A (her name totally rocks!) for the awesome Strangely Irresistible ~ Yo Gabba Gabba award! I love it. I will pass it on, hopefully soon. =D

39 comments:

Lynn said...

Kind of cool that writers can have multiple personalalties! I try to get in my characters head as much as possible to make each voice differently. I must admit I borrow alot from observations in real life.

Lynn said...

Personalities that is. Writers should be creative with spelling too, I think!

L.T. Elliot said...

I totally agree with you about this. I wrote an english paper yesterday and it was SO not my novel-writing-voice. I had a headache that lasted three hours--and the paper only took TWO hours to write. =P

btw, I love your many voices. They're all happy ones. =D

Amparo Ortiz said...

I am a firm believer of schizophrenia.

You know, when it comes to writing and stuff...

Okay. This is what I meant: you stop being you the minute you type that first word. Yes, the story is yours, but it's not seen through your eyes. That's the fun part, right??

Best of luck with your degree!!!

Kristina P. said...

I think it should change, depending on the setting. Just as my personality changes. In work meetings, I am more serious than I am with friends and family.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I do the same thing with school work, blog posts, and writing. They're all different for me. I try to work some differences into the each of my characters' voices through little things that add up to bigger things (that is my hope anyway). I have a character who is constantly making sarcastic comments about people she sees based on what they're wearing. She's not very pleasant, but she's a lot of fun to write :) Happy Writing!

Sara B. Larson said...

Voice is definitely a big part of successful writing, and most agents/editors will say that voice is one of the main factors in determining whether they request/offer for your mss or not. You have a great voice Carolyn, I love reading your stuff!

Yamile said...

That's so amazing that your working on your degree.
And I agree, I'm sure people read my blog posts or my facebook status and think I can't write, but I'm a different writer when I'm working on my book or just writing for fun. I even write so differently on my journal! And my characters have different voices; my books have different voices.

Susan R. Mills said...

Yes, different voices are so important. I've noticed sometimes my characters sound too much the same and have to go back and change things.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yes! I spend a lot of time working with my composition students on voice - how it can change, when it SHOULD change, etc...

It's a very powerful writing tool. Great post, Carolyn! :-)

Patti said...

That's a great question. I notice I'm kind of a different person in different situations. I think the personalities of your characters needs to come out based on where they are.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Have you seen "I Write Like" ? I plugged in some different kinds of work into that and got varying results - because the voice was different in each piece. Or maybe it was the multiple personality disorder...forgot to take my lithium today :D

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wonderful post! I do the same thing in real life too. I am prim and proper when the occassion calls for it. I'm motherly at times. I'm a biker chick when it's just the hubby, the Harley and me. I can be perky and out going or quiet and reclusive...it just depends on what I need to be for the moment, just like what a character needs....

Jen Daiker said...

I love my characters, all of their personalities different! I used to wonder how writers could keep them different, unique and seperate but the minute I have the name the personality is already attached and a new journey has begun.

Piper, Sadie, Stella, Lauren, all unique in name and personality... I love being a writer! Such a wonderful world where anything is possible!

Shelley Sly said...

That's wonderful that you can write in so many voices -- it wouldn't be all that great if your papers sounded too conversational, or all of your characters talked uber-articulately.

Since I write about so many diverse characters -- males and females, children and adults, all kinds of backgrounds -- their voices are all different, and I love it! It makes writing so much more fun! :)

Jolene Perry said...

I love doing multiple POV's and my hope is that my style changes a bit while switching around.
My blog is ALL ME and it's been a while since I wrote a paper for college and I wasn't really writing then anyways. But yep, it's all different. I think that's a good thing.

Amanda Sablan said...

Best of luck on your degree; nearing the end must be exciting, if anxiety-ridden. :)

Most of my characters have their own little way of talking, and of course their reactions differ. I use multiple POVs in my book and even though it can be difficult balancing and distinguishing them all, it's so much fun!

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm working on two wips in which the MC's are very different, and I'm glad that even though they have demographic similarities, their voices are extremely different. It's fun to get into their minds, history, and memories.

ali said...

You are awesome Carolyn!

I have to admit that I'm probably not very good at making my characters unique. I don't know. *shrug* I think my lack of confidence in this area is pretty telling, don't you think?

Summer Ross said...

You are right- my voice changes also depending on what I'm writing. I don't go too elaborate in college- but I do notice its like a brain change in some cases. I reread stuff and think- do i really talk like that? LOL But Its important to look at because its a useful thing with characters. Thanks for posting

Tiana Smith said...

I write differently for different audiences too, and I can see how this would be positive or negative. It's positive because we need a different approach to everyone's voice, but it's negative if we let it dictate the way we write (as in, we're writing for someone else and not being true to the story). I guess the only way to keep things straight is to carefully look at your voice and see how it changes.

Elena Solodow said...

Interesting post. Luckily, my character's always sound different when they come to me.

Angie said...

I like all your voices. It's so true. It's even true when we're talking to different people, our styles can change. I like to hope my characters have distinct voices too. Good luck on your revisions and school and all!

Ishta Mercurio said...

This is an excellent point. I try to think like my characters, and keeping the motivation of each character in mind helps a lot. If I know what they want in that scene, I know how they will react and what they will say.

Dayana Stockdale said...

I like to think of myself as an actress with stage fright. I can become all these different characters and really get in to them, then I write what they have to say. I do this for the page, but could never do it on stage!

Wow...thanks for this post. I think I have the beginnings of a silly poem. ! :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I listen to them, I guess - but sometimes I'll "give" them a quirk or something they say that sets them apart. Like Rebecca says "I see. Well." a lot *laugh* -- and VK has her own unique way of talking ... the main character is the "easier" to set apart - sometimes writers forgot to set apart the minor characters, adn that's just as important! :)

Mary Campbell said...

You're so write Carolyn. We do use different voices depending on who were speaking to or writing for. Making sure all my characters sound different is something I plan on doing in revisions.

KarenG said...

Like you I can change voices. Are writers like actors that way? We can take on different personas in writing like actors can in front of the camera. What an awesome talent this is!

Vicki Rocho said...

I was just thinking about this! In preparation for my party, I was cleaning and reorganizing things. I found a binder from the toughest English class I've ever had. All the writing was highly academic and when I read it I can't believe that I wrote it! So I can change, but I don't like it. Doing too much of one or another makes it hard to switch gears, too.

Danyelle said...

Yes! So much personality comes out in the voice. While I do have basic things about my voice that remains the same regardless of what I'm writing, the surface of it changes depending which character I'm in, who my audience is, and how awake and alert I am. Awesome post!

Jackee said...

And we love you back! :o)

I didn't know you were working on a degree AND writing AND blogging AND being a mom. You are amazing!

My voice changes too and people often ask me why I don't write science nonfiction commercially. Well, it's because I haven't found the right voice because every time my science tone kicks in and I sound like my dissertation. Dry. Literally. So, I understand the split-personality voice thing. :o)

Happy Monday!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I know what you mean about this strange phenomenon. I also have this. TORN sounds very intrigueing! Go you!

Nichole Giles said...

You're right. Different types of writing require a completely different voice. Hard to do, but it just helps build your skills as a writer.

So, are you almost done with Torn? And, do I get to like, read it sometime?

Jayne said...

My writing voice is pretty much the same for fiction, blog, and features. It changes tone for copywriting, or serious journalism, but other than that it's pretty much who I am! But it took a long while to find it - years and years.

LeishaMaw said...

Oh yeah, my voice changes. I call it the many sides of me. Or I might need a white jacket with really long sleeves. Great post!

Emy (Sandy) Shin said...

My writing style definitely changes depending on what I'm writing, but I find it harder to alter my characters' voices. But it's very very true that they sound different -- and act differently.

Elana Johnson said...

Great question! For me, I do two things: I put them in a new room and have them describe it. Notice what they notice, what's important to them. Then I put them in a high-stress situation with another person and see what they say, how they react, what they do with their hands.

That usually works for me in helping me figure out who they are, what they notice, what they say, etc.

Jenn Johansson said...

writing style and voice are crucial. Great post! :)

Jennie Bailey said...

Great post!! I write scenes between characters to find their voices. By the time I have them fully pictured in my mind, the voice is usually pushing to come out as well. My current manuscript has a MC that is based on a friend that passed in March. Her voice was very easy for me - it came through loud and clear! My next project which I will start (and finish!) for NaNoWriMo has a MC with a completely different voice (and waaay more attitude) than Eva. I don't find it hard to differentiate their voices. There might a little bit of me injected into each one, but not a lot. My voice on my blog is entirely different!