Writing a great story is more than simply putting words on paper in an interesting way. It involves the creation of characters that are three-dimensional. Characters that stay with you long after the story is finished. Through the eyes of these characters, the reader is transported in another life or another world.
But creating these types of characters can be a real challenge.
Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about just this - in fact, she is the reason I am posting today. You see, I am really into building authentic characters with authentic points of view and voice. I do this using a technique I adapted from transformation psychology -
Developed by Hal and Sidra Stone, voice dialogue is a way of "getting in touch" with the many aspects of personality that lie within the self. In therapy, it is a way of putting to voice the dysfunctional aspects of self. Even some spiritual practices have incorporated similar techniques as a way of putting a voice those aspects of the self targeted for exploration or change.
With reference to writing, I use this voice dialogue technique to find and stay in the voice of my character throughout the writing process.
So, what is the technique? For me it involves clearing my mind and "speaking" from the POV of each character. Try this -
Write a letter to yourself (the author) from your character’s point of view. This practice can unleash your subconscious creative mind and enable you to get in touch with your character more fully. If you’re stuck in a scene, unsure of your character’s motivations, try this…ask to speak to that aspect of yourself (I know, sounds strange – but trust me, it WORKS). For example, if your main character, is Julie, ask yourself to speak to Julie. Tell Julie what the problem is, stay still for a minute and write. Odds are really good that you will be able to release that creative nature again and write from that perspective. (I have a friend that calls it channeling her characters – perfect…)
For the next couple of days, try writing from different characters’ voices in the first person. Pick a variety of characters - the broader the variety, the better. After doing this for a while, read what you wrote. Does it all sound the same? If so, you may not be speaking from the character’s voice – but from the author’s voice. Try it again. Eventually you will be able to completely stay in the voice of your character – regardless of POV, scene changes or plot developments. As you master this, you will begin to create characters that leap from the page and give your story the heartbeat it needs.
An added bonus – this technique will help you go deeper with your characters emotionally – much deeper.
How do you find and maintain your characters' voices?