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Thread: My 'Voice' problem

  1. #11
    Senior Member Incanus's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great replies.

    I think I may have a way to deal with this niggling issue. One of the maddening things about this is that the voice I'm using does actually fit the character--it's just that that voice isn't all that interesting on its own.

    So the action of this story is pretty fast-paced; it's not supposed to be particularly deep or anything. Those portions and much of the dialogue don't require a lot of voice. It's mostly the introspective moments that suffer. Very recently, I wrote such a section that was better than all the previous attempts (corroborated by my trusty go-to writing friend), rough though it was.

    After sleeping on that development for a few days, I think the way to tackle this will be through relying content more than on voice. The recent bit I wrote had stronger opinions expressed in it, and felt more genuine than the previous stuff. A handful more of these types of moments could go a long way toward fixing this.

    That, and I also like the idea of punching up some the other characters around him. (No, I don't mean hitting them in the face.)

    It may not be perfect, but I think I can live with it.
    The anti-Incanus says, "Naturally, I disagree with everything he just said. And I'll always have the last word!"

  2. #12
    Moderator skip.knox's Avatar
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    I've been thinking more about some of the characters I mentioned. Take Will Kane, for example (High Noon). The action is very straightforward. His speech is plain. So what draws us to the character? It's the moral dilemma. Does he resort to violence again? Well, of course he does. But what drives him to it? That's the hook. What will make this guy cross a line he has drawn for himself?

    Without the moral dilemma, this would not be a classic. It would just be a retired sheriff who gets into a gunfight. Yes, it helps to have those around him be more colorful. It really helps to have a villain you love to hate. But it's the moral choice that has to be made, a choice indeed that he has to make more than once, that keeps us close to the story.

    And, if you think about it, his stoicism and laconic speech actually pulls us in. The dilemma is stated early in the movie, so we know what is at stake. We wind up wanting Kane to say more, to show more emotion. We want to share in his pain. In a romance movie, it would be where we're urging the guy or the girl to *say* something. That's a great hook because you can keep tugging at it.

    Anyway, it just really struck me that the ordinariness of a character can actually pull readers in. But it has to be handled right, of course.
    Skip's Writing Tip of the Day: write.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Incanus's Avatar
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    Yeah Skip, I think this is where this thing is headed.

    You know, I think I'm going to check out a couple of these westerns with the laconic MC. I hadn't thought of that. It's not my favorite genre by a long shot, but I see more than ever how there are things to learn that come from just about anywhere.

    And you're right--I really need to see Harvey. I think I may have seen it as a kid, but I can't recall anymore.

    This isn't over yet...
    The anti-Incanus says, "Naturally, I disagree with everything he just said. And I'll always have the last word!"

  4. #14
    Moderator skip.knox's Avatar
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    One thing I have found in reading far outside my genre is that I care less about the story. It's actually easier to pay attention to plotting, character arcs, how setting is handled--in short, to the mechanics of the story--than it is when reading fantasy or SF. For me, anyway. I think it's because when I read fantasy, I *want* to be swept away, but in reading a crime novel or a Western, I have no such expectations. It's like when I listen to big band music I can clearly hear the arrangement, the structure of the song, and elements that will later feed into rock n roll. But I don't lose myself in it the way I do when I listen to the music of my youth.
    Skip's Writing Tip of the Day: write.
    Visit Altearth or visit my blog
    Historical Background for Fantasy Writers

  5. #15
    Senior Member Mythopoet's Avatar
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    Query: have other readers told you that the character's voice is boring? Or is it just that you think it sounds boring?
    I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs

  6. #16
    Senior Member Penpilot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skip.knox View Post
    One thing I have found in reading far outside my genre is that I care less about the story. It's actually easier to pay attention to plotting, character arcs, how setting is handled--in short, to the mechanics of the story--than it is when reading fantasy or SF. For me, anyway. I think it's because when I read fantasy, I *want* to be swept away, but in reading a crime novel or a Western, I have no such expectations. It's like when I listen to big band music I can clearly hear the arrangement, the structure of the song, and elements that will later feed into rock n roll. But I don't lose myself in it the way I do when I listen to the music of my youth.
    That's a good point Skip. I do the same thing with other media too like movies and tv shows. And especially when the movie is bad.
    -Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.
    -A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Incanus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mythopoet View Post
    Query: have other readers told you that the character's voice is boring? Or is it just that you think it sounds boring?
    Hi Mythopoet.

    So 2 of 3 members of my little group mentioned this problem, and I agreed with them. I suspect the other person would have eventually brought it up or agreed with it if/when they got a little further along reading what I have.

    The good news is that I've actually been putting some 'voice' into my recent edit--it's just that being so close to it, and being confused about all this, I hadn't even realized I was doing it. It would take too long to explain the evidence of this, but I think this is what is happening. This problem isn't licked yet, but I think I see a way forward.

    A great point from Skip and Penpilot--stories outside your usual fare, and especially poorly done stories, can often provide a great look into story mechanics. It's easier to see all the machinery when little effort has been made to house it in some proper coverings.
    The anti-Incanus says, "Naturally, I disagree with everything he just said. And I'll always have the last word!"

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