Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Getting Voices Right....

by Matt Lynn

As I might have mentioned last week, I am making revisions to ‘Ice Force’ right now. For me, that mainly means working on the language, and in particular the dialogue.

One of the hardest things writers have to do is give all the people in the their book a distinctive voice, and that is something I find I have to continually check. It is especially hard for me, because there are ten characters in the military unit in my stories, and although some of them are more important than others, they are all pretty crucial to the series.

So I need to make sure they all speak in a way that is convincing throughout the book, and which also separates one man from another.

I don’t do it through accents. That is partly, if I am being honest, because I am rubbish at writing them. I have no ear for putting a Welsh accent into easily written form. But its mainly because I think it is distracting. You don’t want the book to turn into an exercise in showing off how good I am at accents.

Instead you have to do it by the kinds of things the men say. It is there in the way they react to situations, how they respond to jokes, and in the kind of ideas and thoughts they have.

But you need to have thought through your character completely to know what they would say all the time.

And you need to make sure they never say anything out of character. That would shatter the illusion for the reader in an instant.

When you get it right, it is very satisfying. The right dialogue really makes a book come alive.

But you have to keep checking you haven’t got any of it wrong.

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