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How To Make Your Characters Sound Different
By Bethany Cadman on January 5, 2017
Sometimes when writing a story with lots of different characters we find that two of them sound and act rather like one another, or, worst still , your whole cast of characters sound the same echoing and parroting their way through the story to the point where it is difficult to tell them apart.
One of the great and most enjoyable things about a good book is getting to know that cast of characters, even the ones we don’t like make for great reading! If all your characters sound the same then not only could your book become confusing with your reader struggling to determine who is speaking at any given moment, but also it will soon become bland and dull and your reader will start to find it hard to care about the characters – and that spells death for your book.
So how do you keep your characters fresh and interesting and distinct from one to another? Here are some useful tips.
Choose interesting names
Naming your characters is great fun and coming up with memorable names for your characters is a useful way of distinguishing them apart. Choose names that reflect who they are. Long, posh, pompous names for snooty characters, short, snappy names for the quick-witted or sharp tongues, funny nicknames for loveable or comedic characters and so on.
Give them distinctive appearances
A ghastly scar, a funny walk, startling green eyes, a missing tooth – each of your characters should have a distinct look that is very different from the others. Of course, relatives may have some similar features but your main characters should contrast and compliment each other and have little physical traits that are truly unique to them and will help your reader easily conjure up and image of them every time they appear on your page.
Think about their personalities
Are the shy and retiring, jolly and good natured, aggressive and loud, nervous and secretive? Make each and every one of your characters personalities shine through. Write down a list of character traits for each and look at them as you write. When they speak and act make sure they are consistent with their personalities. Would your angry character put his glass softly on the table and speak in a whisper or would he slam his drink down and scream bloody murder?
Habits and quirks
Giving your characters habits and quirks is another way to make them unique and stand out. An odd facial twitch, a haunting echo of their voice, a lisp, and particular way of speaking. Do they ramble or are the succinct? Do they always make sense or stutter and blabber? Do they swear or speak in slang or are they very polite and correct? Are the measure or do they get flustered and always contradict themselves?
Whatever you, knowing your characters inside out makes all the difference. If you truly know your characters you are far less likely for them to start merging into one another and all sounding the same. Keep each character consistent throughout your book and when you are editing make sure that you check to see that your characters remain so throughout – this way you’ll end up with a cast of interesting and unique characters that are completely distinctive from one another.