At the Whole Novel Workshop in Honesdale, our teaching assistant, Candy Dahl, proposed an exercise for developing a character’s voice.
- Take a blank piece of paper.
- Write “Dear [your name]” at the top.
- Write “Love [your character’s name]” at the bottom.
- Lie down on your bed and imagine your character entering the room and talking to you.
- After five minutes, get up and write what the character said. Stream of consciousness is okay.
Yeah, it sounds crazy, but it works.
I experimented with this technique at Honesdale and got amazing results. I am doing a major revision in which my main character and his love interest change places, and the voice of the new main character has eluded me. Since every draft should have one purpose, I put aside my worries about voice and focused on the major changes in the plot.
The first draft is finished, and now is the time to think about voice.
I decided to start each writing day with Candy’s exercise. My (new) main character is bossy and more than happy to tell me what to do. It’s working so far.