I met Paula the other day. In person, on American soil. I’ll let her blog about it and post the picture, as our meeting was a result of her month-long vacation in the U.S., but suffice it to say, we had a wonderful lunch and afternoon together.
When I told people about it, they all thought it was wonderful that we were getting to meet in person. And it was. But the thing that struck me about it was this: because of social media, blogging, emails and critiques, we knew almost everything about each other—EXCEPT OUR VOICES.
I know she’s not a morning person, and was pleasantly surprised that she was willing to talk to me before lunch (J). I know she likes savory, not sweet, so I didn’t expect us to do dessert. I know she used to be a history teacher, so we talked about Morristown’s link to America’s Revolutionary War past.
What I didn’t know was what she sounded like.
As writers, we often talk about voice, but we mean our author’s voice. An author’s voice makes us unique. It enables a writer to pick up one of our books and, without looking at who wrote it, automatically know it’s ours based on how we write.
But what about character voices? Sure, I hear voices in my head (as do most authors and all crazy people), but do we hear their actual voices? Do we hear accents, pitch and tone? When we create a character, how do we convey those things? Or can we?
Should I simply say that my character is from New York to let the reader know how she speaks? Mark Twain wrote using actual dialect, which made the reader know exactly what the character sounded like, but was cumbersome to read.
What would you do?