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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Development - Setting up Voice in the First Scene

15 March 2012, Development - Setting up Voice in the First Scene

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 and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

Character voice is the last stage of character revelation.  Many people call this character development.  I'll make the point again.  The characters must be developed prior to their revelation in the novel.  In a novel, you don't develop the characters, you reveal them.  There is a step of true character development, but this is very particular and usually reserved for the main character.

So the point is to reveal the character that you have already developed.  The revelation is letting the reader know the character of the character.  When you do this, you can't tell the reader anything.  You can use description.  For example from Aksinya:

The woman was dressed in a black gown that was much too large for her.  Beautiful handmade lace cascaded down the front of the dress and decorated the sleeves.  Thick velvet competed with black satin to form a perfect attire to greet a Tsar, but certainly not a commissar.  The gown fell loosely away from the woman’s thin chest and small breasts.  It looked odd draped on her body, like a girl playing dress-up from her mother’s closet.  But this gown obviously came from the closet of a princess.
Aksinya, the woman within the pentagram, squinted across the dark cellar.  She was barely eighteen and much too thin for her age.  She was petite; that was a polite way of saying small.  And underdeveloped, that was a polite way of saying she didn’t yet appear much like a woman.  Aksinya’s hair was dark brown and silky and beautiful, bound up in a long braid, but her face was plain and Russian, so Russian.  Her voice was soft and sometimes too shrill.  When she was excited it rose in strength and pitch, so she never sounded very mature or well mannered.

From this description of Aksinya, you know a lot about her.  You see more than once that she is small, thin, and underdeveloped.  You know she is Russian.  You can see her features in your mind, if you know anything about Russian women.  You know her hair is long and brown and braided.  You know her voice is soft, but shrill when she is excited.  You don't know anything about her character, but you might be picking up a little about her personality.  The description just begins the process of revelation.  The true revelation happens through the character's words and actions.

We'll look more at voice in the first scene in the creative process in Aksinya tomorrow.

I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples:, and the individual novel websites:,,,,, and

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