“As you know I enjoy reading your books very much and one of the reasons being that you have a very distinct sound for each of your characters. When you read you can almost hear the tone, etc of the speaker. I've read a couple of books recently where it’s clear that the writer is struggling with this and I thought you'd be the perfect person for me to ask for a blog post on hints and tips on how to get this. Especially since I'm I also finally started writing my book. I am reading and taking notes from the experts.”
ShowClearly it’s not done through long descriptive passages about their appearance, their personality traits, their likes and dislikes, their past thoughts and activities. This kind of writing would definitely fall into the “telling” category, and a good writer “shows” the essence of their characters through more immediate techniques, like dialogue. Not that this kind of telling isn’t occasionally helpful, but it should be smoothly incorporated into the narrative action. Never be like “Okay, now I’m going to explain about my character.”
Practice and PolishBut getting it translated to the page can be tough. It takes skills. How do you get the skills? By writing. Write, write and write everything, always. Our current publishing opportunities, as wonderful as they are, can also be a detriment. Writers previously had to polish their craft endlessly before they had any hope of getting the attention of an editor and a publishing company. Now we can write the book, hire a copy editor and a cover designer, perhaps a formatter, click a few buttons and we are live on Kindle. Our book done ready to be downloaded. One well-known self-published guru brags that he can get a novel out in three months, start to finish.
And following are a few of the quotes I love that keep me motivated:
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” –Anton Chekhov
“You can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.” –Jodie Piccoult
“Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way–and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity.” –Sylvia Plath