I’ve read several novels lately where all the characters sound the same; you can’t tell them apart without a dialogue tag. Sometimes I’ve even had to retrace a conversation between two people back to the last dialogue tag and then count them out to know who’s talking.
Ooops. Not a good thing.
Here are some tips for giving your characters unique voices:
- Spend some time getting to know your characters as people. Who are they? What are they like? What’s their backstory? When you know your characters well, they become unique individuals to you—with unique language patterns.
- Give your characters favorite words or expressions. You don’t want to overdo this or, well, does “Holy overdone expressions, Batman” give you an idea?
- Loosely base your characters on people you know—how would they say it? Then tweak it a bit.
- Go hang out where people like your characters are. Listen to the way they talk. Incorporate that into your dialogue.
- Read your dialogue aloud—as if you were performing it on stage. Does it sound right?
Readers, what tips or tricks do you use to give (and keep) your characters’ voices unique?