Your Characters’ Voices

Something to do in a cell

The Curfew (Roddy Doyle)

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
This article discusses how a lot of writers hear the voices of their characters:

Majority of authors 'hear' their characters speak, finds study

We discussed this phenomenon in an old thread. It’s something that affects both readers and authors.

I’ve been even more aware of it recently, as I gear up to become a narrator of my Cornish Detective series. I’ve ‘heard’ my main character and his detectives’ voices in my head many times, but actually expressing them with my vocal chords is going to be a challenge!

The novella I’m writing at the moment, set in Georgia after the Civil War, has made me contemplate how I’ll make my veteran soldier sound. He’s from Pennsylvania and has been warned by people he’s met to modify his northern accent while in the Deep South, to avoid antagonising the locals. On the other hand, he’s just met a cultured Mulatto ex-slave who makes him feel like a hick. This man doesn’t sound like a black plantation worker, more like a professor of English.

Do you hear your characters speak?


I hear my characters every time I write. The difference is that I write children's stories and I write in the first person and so I am always saying the dialogue in my head. I love the sound of your story. Sounds fascinating. I used to babysit as a kid for years and I used to read stories to the kids when I wasn't creating them. I always created different voices for the characters. Am not sure where you live. I live in France but if you have a home versus mobile phone we can talk and you could practice your voices if you would find that helpful. Just a thought. I am new so don't know if you have others to practice with but I would be willing to help if you need it. Joanne ( I write as Joanna to keep my writing and legal careers separated).
I hear my characters' voices, their patois, styles of speech, etc., and try to illustrate it in the text. Notably George, The Only Good Idea I've Ever Had(TM), is a tiny old man with "an absurdly deep voice" for a man his size (or variant descriptions thereof). He also gets LOUD when he's angry.
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I hear my characters and see the action as if I'm a ghost on the edge of the scene. Separate to my WIP, I also have conversations with them which really helps me to get to know them and their motivations. I've just had a chat with a relatively minor character but it's allowed me to portray him in 3-d which has made a difference even though he's a minor character.
All the characters in my story have demonstrated their voices. I interview them, or they tell me how they'd do/say it.
It's all in my head, of course, but it comes from the people I've met, the jobs I've done, the issues of the world.
While the story is being written, these are real people, and I see them, hear them, occasionally hide from them ...
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Something to do in a cell

The Curfew (Roddy Doyle)