Happy MLK day, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day. I've been doing a very specific kind of revising on Penumbras and it's one of my favorite things to do, so I wanted to talk about. I'm sure someone invented this long before me and there's probably even a fancy term for it that I don't know.
One of the things that I really hope to achieve with The Kindling books is to communicate the characters on the page as clearly as they are in my brain. To me, they are so real and I want the reader to sense that as well.
I spend a long time working on the character's voices--the way they say things. One of my pet peeves is reading books where teenaged characters don't talk like real teenagers. It's almost impossible for me to be drawn into books like this and I don't want to commit the same sin.
Because The Kindling books are told through alternating POV, I want the characters's voices to come out, not only when they are speaking dialogue, but also when the chapter is told from their point of view. The narrative is in 3rd person, so it's not the characters speaking directly, but I still want it to reflect the POV character in that chapter.
Lexa, for example, likes making up adverbs. She tends to speak in long, run-in sentences and use dramatic expressions and slightly 0ff-beat similes. She is focused on the emotional aspects of a scene and the relationships between characters. Melanie speaks in clear, precise terms. Her sentences tend to be short and straightforward, almost clinical with occasional poetic language. She favors simple metaphors and her vocabulary is larger and her syntax more advanced than most teenagers. Conner is more sarcastic than both of them. He tends to be a smart-aleck even when the situation is serious. Like Lexa, he tends to use similes a lot, but his tend to be a little less random than hers, but are fairly quirky. He also likes strong, direct verbs and likes to describe action as opposed to emotion.
So, in chapters that are told from Lexa's POV, you will find an adverb or two and long, breathless descriptions. Chapters in Melanie's POV will be shorter and more focused--exact and precise. And so on.
The way I try to achieve this is by saving three copies of the manuscript once it is reasonably polished. In the first copy, I go through and delete all the chapters except Melanie's, for example. Once I have all of those chapters, I read them as if they were an extended dramatic monologue, trying to make sure that everything jibes with Melanie's personality. I do the same thing for both Conner and Lexa. Just today I found some big words in Lexa's chapters that were not realistic for Lexa.
My hope is by doing this that their voices are consistent and realistic. Once this is done, I do something similar for their dialogue. Sometimes I corral my students into reading passages of dialogue out loud to see if it rings true.
At any rate, for me, this is one aspect of writing that is fun--the challenge of trying to get their voices just right.
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