Thursday, June 19, 2008

Trick Up Your Sleeve

Ever picked up a book and halfway through it realized that all of the characters sound remarkably the same?

I know I have.

As an author, that's an easy mistake to make. After all, every single character is coming from you!

Here's a simple trick to make sure each of your characters have their own unique diction/responses/reactions/expressions:

Go through a few dialogue-heavy scenes in your novel and highlight each character's dialogue with a different color (you can do this right on the computer or print it off if that's easier). Then read each character's dialogue on its own. If you've done it right, the cadence and rhythm for each will be different and you won't have them sharing similar expressions or reactions to the external conflict.

If you notice any of the separate highlighted strands sound alike, go back to your characters, figure out what makes them fundamentally different from each other, and change their dialogue to reflect that.


  1. Amen, sistah. One of my (many) pet peeves? Someone picks up this thingy and says, "What an odd, silvery spherical object!" Then, every time anyone in the novel picks up the doo-hickey, they all call it "the odd, silvery spherical object!" Grrr. Argh! Wouldn't anyone call it the strange, grey ball?

  2. I do this with my own work. And I do it with books in my library. It amazes me that some folks actually get published. (Just a tad jealous, I guess.)

  3. Lol, Danielle. I agree. Also when an author uses a fancy, "writerly" phrase to describe one character and then uses it on another, I literally snarl at the page.

    Peg - I know. I've felt like that at times. =)


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