This week I’ve been doing voice journals for my characters as I reach the midpoint of Camp NaNoWriMo. I first read about this practice in James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers. This week I’ve read a few online articles on the subject. I’ve capsulated the main concepts of doing voice journals for characters here:
- The Voice Journal is a technique to discover a character’s voice.
- They are written in stream of consciousness format.
- They should be done the moment when the character starts talking to you in a voice you did not plan.
- Characters shouldn’t sound the same when they speak, and the Voice Journal helps you avoid that condition.
- Prioritize quantity over quality when making a voice journal entry.
- Don’t try to do a character’s voice journal all in one sitting.
- Create an entry for a character using ten-minute chunks. Come back later and do another one. And another. And so on.
- One time-tested technique for practicing dialogue is improvisation.
- Watch TV with the sound off, and do the voices of the characters. Commercials are a great place to start.
- Pull from a list of character archetypes (such as “geek”, “mad scientist”, “farmer”, etc.) and improvise in that chosen voice.
- Ask the character questions and have the character answer them.
- Or you can let a character talk about their lives and what brought them to where they are now.
- Creating voice journals can lead to sharper dialogue.
- Using voice journals may help you discover hidden motives behind your character’s behaviors.
- A voice journal can help prevent all your characters from sounding like you, the writer.
- A voice journal can also help prevent the “voiceless voice,” which is a dispassionate narrator telling a story from an emotional distance.
Check out Bell’s book, The Art of War for Writers for some great examples of voice journal entries.