29 March 2012, Development - Importance of Change of Voice in a Novel
Introduction: I realized that I need to introduce this blog a little. I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. The working title was Daemon, and this was my 21st novel. Over the last year, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
Sometimes (rarely) character voice must change. You may and should change character voice in these circumstances:
1. Development of the character
2. Mental illness
3. Physical or mental effects
5. Seduction (sales)
6. Subterfuge (politics)
7. ...there may be more, I'll think of them as I write about the others.
So, how important is character voice? I think character voice is the most important expression of a character within a novel. I already implied this, but let's make it official. First, you develop a character. This is likely what you learned in a creative writing class. Character development is a very indepth topic. You basically give the character a name and you design a life and personality for that character. The life and personality are the aspects that interact within the novel. Second, you reveal the character within the plot. Third, one of the primary means you use to reveal the character is the character voice.
Remember, our goal as writers is to show and not to tell. You must discern what this means in terms of revealing a developed character. I can tell you what it isn't. It certainly isn't the author telling us in an omniscient voice all about the character. You might wonder then, how do you reveal a character. That's what I've been trying to show you for the last few weeks. The means is not exclusively, but it is almost exclusively through character voice. The other (reasonable) means are from physical description, other characters, and from the character telling us about themselves.
For example, the main character sits on a bar stool and has had a little too much to drink.
"You know, Angela. I really don't like myself."
"How can you say that, Celest. You have every thing you could want. You have a great family."
Celest took a sip of her Martini, "That doesn't matter, I want more. I know I'm capable of much more than that."
Angela took a deep breath, "But you've already succeeded where so many have failed."
Celest leaned across the bar, "Who will remember me when I'm gone--no one."
Okay, this is a short character revelation example, but it is very revealing. First, it reveals a lot about the character Celest. It is short, but we get a lot from it. I haven't even brought in description, but you can almost see her in your mind's eye. You can also see her friend Angela. You begin to see into Celest's mind. Revealing a character like this can be a lot of work, but it's worth it. Just for grins, lets use the omniscient voice to reveal Celest.
Celest was a woman who really didn't like herself. She was tired for her family and her work. Although she was successful, she wasn't happy. Her best friend Angela was her confident and conscience.
Pretty bad. It sounds like a middle schooler wrote it--yuck.
I'll write about how to project the character's voice, tomorrow.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.