Writing Craft: Character Voice


“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of voices in their head, must be an author.”

Okay, so not the most eloquent remastering of the Pride and Prejudice quote, but a truth all the same. Only for authors is it socially acceptable to be insane. If anyone else talked about hearing voices in their head it would be a one-way ticket to the asylum. But voices we hear – the voices of our characters.


A couple months ago, I talked about developing our “Author Voice”, but sometimes what I find even more challenging is developing unique character voice. Someone once told me that each character must have a voice so unique you can read a line or two without an identifier and still be able to determine whose POV it is or who is talking.

Am I the only one that cringed and wanted to hide their manuscript?

Over the last few months, I have developed a few tricks to help me create these unique voices, especially in my character POVs.

Character Voice Hints

1. When writing in a certain POV, I try to sink into what is called Deep Point of View. Essentially it is writing like the entire scene is happening through the thoughts of the character without actually being thought dialogue. 


Instead of: She touched his forehead to check for fever.

Try: Burning heat suffused the air between her palm and his forehead. Oh no. The fever had returned.


2. Give certain frames of references to each character. 


My heroine grew up under the guidance of her military grandfather, who treated her just like a soldier. When writing in her POV, I use military terms, descriptions that line up with military thinking, and actions that reveal her military upbringing.


“His words cannonballed into the soft soil of her soul, crushing it beneath their weight and force.”

My hero, however, does not have this upbringing, but he is a Secret Service operative. So I have him behave, think, and speak like one.

“Edward beat him to the corner seat that gave a clear view of the room. Only criminals and lawmen worried about protecting their backs while observing others.”

Please note, these are unpolished sentences, but they are just to give you an idea of how to work that in.


3. Give them unique phrases and quirks.


The heroine may say “Oh skunk!” when she is upset, while the hero may rub at a hidden rock in his pocket.


4. Take into account their education level.

If the heroine has had a lot of education, then her word choices should reflect it, but if she is a self-taught woman her choices may be different.


“The sunset is absolutely exquisite tonight.” vs “It sure is a pretty sunset tonight.”


5. Consider Dialect

Each region has its own turn of phrase and accents. In July, my family and I went on a mission trip and one of the leaders was from Minnesota. Her “o” sounds were unique as well as her use of “You betcha” and “Oofta sakes.” If your characters are from different regions or ethnic backgrounds, take that into consideration.



One of my villain’s henchmen is Irish. I did a little research and made sure I wrote the dialect correctly and even worked in some sayings into the conversation.

“May the cat eat ye, and the devil eat the cat!” (My personal favorite.)

Your Turn

How do you help the voices of your characters to stand out as unique? Are there certain resources you use to help? If you are comfortable, share a couple examples of your character voices.

Writing Craft Wednesday: Writing in the Male POV – Part 1



“So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;

He created them male and female.”

– Genesis 1:27


And boy did he create the differently. Ever heard of the boosolar-system-566537_640k Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? I personally have never read the book, but I can relate to the feeling that men seem to be from a different planet. (And I am sure there are probably at least a few men who feel the same about women.)


One of my favorite things about reading and writing romantic fiction is the perspective of the story from both sexes. Reading it is easy. Writing it? Not so much.


In fact, in my first draft of my work in progress, my critique partners gently revealed to me that my hero was a whiny, wimpy, girly-man (my words, not theirs). I may be married to a man, but I certainly couldn’t write or think like a man. Boy, was I thankful to discover that early into my writing!


So I set my manuscript aside and decided to dive into the world of male point of view. I looked at suggested articles and sought more out on my own. What I discovered, from both the male and female writers of these articles, was a pattern.

Men are pretty straightforward creatures with specific tendencies in their speech, inner thoughts, and behavior.


Over the next couple weeks, I will give a bulleted list of what I have learned. Keep in mind that these bullets are just patterns that I found. There are always exceptions.


Male Dialogue

  • They rarely end sentences with questions or say things like “I’m not sure.”
  • They do not use expressive adjectives (wonderful, gorgeous, etc. unless being sarcastic). Usually, “it’s okay” or “it looks good” are about what you get.
  • They are rarely heard saying “May I? Could I? Should I?”
  • They rarely use words like darling, honey, or sweetheart except during times of intimacy or moment of extreme stress.
  • Make dialogue to the point.


Male Conversation

  • Conversations are a means to relay information not build relationships.
  • Conversations are typically on a non-important topic until everything dies away
  • Guy conversations generally involve the least amount of words possible.
  • Generally, guys only have two or three things in common with other – sports, work, music, games, food. Gossip is off the table.
  • If two guys disagree on something, expect some flaring tensions and arguments.
  • Talking with girls varies. Some are very shy, some of full of confidence and swagger. Some try to be amicable and get a laugh out of you whether you’re guy or a girl.
  • If men are embarrassed they usually try to laugh it off.
  • If men are hurt they get quiet and try not to get mad.



  • Prefer direct action to talk.
  • Are problem solvers. They rarely listen without giving advice.
  • Rarely ask for advice.
  • Rarely admit to being wrong and their apologies tend to be gruff and unpolished.
  • Rarely respond to a direct command unless they are outranked.
  • Say what they think. They don’t use euphemisms.
  • Use very black-and-white talk – it is what it is; a spade is a spade.
  • Don’t do small talk.
  • Rarely punctuate speakers with agreeing noises.
  • Mostly repress emotions except anger.
  • Are a lot less likely to share their feelings. Feelings are private, which are none of your business.



What do you think? Is anything off base? Is there anything you would add? Share it in the comments below and then come back next week when I tackle male thought patterns and behaviors.

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