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Give Each Character a Distinctive Voice by Joan Y. Edwards

Give characters a different voice
Give Each Character a Distinctive Voice Thanks to Pixabay for the picture of the little boy.

“Give Each Character a Distinctive Voice” by Joan Y. Edwards

It is so much fun to watch movies and read novels and children’s books where you can tell who is talking the moment the words of dialogue spill out on the page!

Does he talk fast most of the time which makes you miss some important information?
Does she talk so slow you forget what she said to in the beginning?

Is his voice low pitched like a bass?
Is her voice high-pitched and grate on your nerves?

Is he always late?
Is she always early?

Is he agile and talented like an Olympic champion?
Is she afraid of being clumsy in front of others?

Is he prejudiced but can’t see it in himself?
Is she fearful in areas where she is a minority?

Does bad luck follow him around?
Is she always in a crisis mode?

It is important for readers to be able to know without a doubt who is talking or who is doing a certain action because it helps them have a running video in their mind of what is going on and perhaps figuring out why and wondering what is going to happen next.

What readers know about characters keeps them involved in your story.

The more you know about your characters and their history before the moment they step into your story, it will help you make your story more believable and give your characters traits that pull readers to them. These little quirks will make your readers want to find out what happens to them. They will see themselves in this situation and wonder what they would do. They want to see if the characters do the same thing they would do. They will want to find out if the clumsy character  can get through the crisis without falling down this one time.

Think about your favorite character. What are 3 adjectives to  describe them. What makes them different from the other characters in your story? What will cause them problems getting along because they are so different?

One of my favorite characters is Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny a screenplay by Dale Launer. She is intelligent, always wants to help Vinny, and although she doesn’t look like it or act like it, she is an expert in all things about cars. This fact ends up helping Vinny save his cousin and his friend from being convicted of murder.

Another favorite character is Juror 8 played by Henry Fonda in “12 Angry Men,” adapted from a teleplay by Reginald Rose. He was the only juror who believed the teenage boy was innocent at the beginning. He convinced the eleven other men on the jury to change their minds. There were a few who would rather say the boy was guilty so they could get out of there in a hurry.

My third favorite character is Ichabod Crane from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. He is so thin and his horse isn’t much heavier. He is scared of his own shadow and believes anything and everything others tell him. Which makes it so funny when he gets frightened because no one will ever venture where these men were murdered and their heads severed from their bodies. I like Walt Disney’s cartoon version better than the  version better than the 1999 Version with Johnny Depp. Both are great productions, however, the cartoon version brings out the humor better for me.

Please leave a comment telling me your favorite character and three adjectives or sentences to describe him or her along with the name of the book or movie in which we will find them.

Happy Writing!

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2021 Joan Y. Edwards

Resources

1, “7 Effective Ways to Give Your Characters Unique Voices:” https://screencraft.org/2017/10/25/effective-ways-to-give-your-characters-unique-voices/ 
2. “Character Trait Descriptive Adjectives:” https://lesn.appstate.edu/fryeem/RE4030/character_trait_descriptive_adje.htm
3. “How to Define Your Character’s Unique Voice:” https://www.well-storied.com/blog/how-to-define-your-characters-unique-voice
4. “How to Write Dialogue:”
https://writers.com/how-to-write-dialogue
5. “How to Write Natural Dialogue  in 11 Steps:” https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/how-to-write-dialogue/ 
6. Karen Woodward. “How to Create Distinct Characters:” https://blog.karenwoodward.org/2013/12/how-to-create-distinct-characters.html
7. Reedsy.com. “Character Questionnaire:” https://blog.reedsy.com/character-questionnaire/

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Bad to the Bone Villains Make Your Heroes Hurt

Bad to the Bone Villains Make Your Heroes Hurt

“Bad to the Bone Villains Make Your Heroes Hurt” by Joan Y. Edwards

It’s amazing how many stories are even better in our minds because of the villain in each of them. A villain is the main antagonist who deliberately sets out to cause harm or stop the hero from achieving his goal. These villains seem to be bad to the bone. They make your heroes hurt. This tension makes an intriguing story.  Each evil step the villain takes to stop the main character must add a difficult challenge for your protagonist.

Imagine Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs without Queen Grimhilde the Evil Queen. It would leave the story boring and without the big life/death problem for Snow White.

Annika Griffith explains that the villain is a character type, and the antagonist is a plot role.

Zara Altair says to make sure your villain has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • He or she is worthy enough to make your protagonist look good.
  • His or her skills match or exceed your protagonist’s.
  • He/she believes he/she is doing the right thing.
  • He/she has characteristics that match your protagonist’s, but they are misguided.

It’s a good idea to give your villain redeeming characteristics. Make them good in one area that would surprise readers because of his easily recognized flaws.

Think of the following antagonists. These are some of my favorite antagonists to hate. Are they all the main antagonists in the stories? Are they villains in your eyes?

  1. Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
  2. Lady Tremaine from Cinderella.
  3. Ursula in Little Mermaid
  4. Jafar in Aladdin
  5. Juror #3 in 12 Angry Men was the antagonist. He was played by the late Lee J. Cobb.
  6. Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest
  7. Count Dracula in  Dracula
  8. Goldfinger in Goldfinger
  9. The Glee TV Series without Sue Sylvester wouldn’t be as intriguing to watch. She keeps you wondering what awful thing she’s going to do next to upset the apple cart plans of the heroes and heroines. I must admit that sometimes she was so evil, I stopped watching the show.
  10. In Murder Mysteries, like TV Shows Matlock, Columbo, and Monk, the antagonist is the murderer.

The antagonist is the person or thing n who gets in the way of the hero or heroine in the pursuit of his goal.

Sometimes, a character’s opponent is nothing tangible. It may be abstract, such as an internal struggle, a difficult situation in life, weather, or other things.

Gabriela Pereira says villains are not usually all-bad, they’re just misunderstood.

From what I’ve read, the villain intentionally sets out to stop the protagonist from reaching his goal. Other antagonists may stop him, but that wasn’t their primary goal.

On Pro-Writing Aid, Zara Altair says an antagonist’s role is to cause trouble for the protagonist. There may be more than one antagonist in a story.  Each antagonist throws daggers to create problems for the main character which adds tension to the story. Antagonists test the strengths and show up weaknesses that your main character has to overcome to reach his goal.

Antagonist  Possibilities
1. Another Character –
A friend that betrays the protagonist, a villain who sets out on purpose to stop the protagonist. Other antagonists may be characters who stop the protagonist from reaching his goal, but that was not their main purpose.
2. Features of the Natural, Physical, Material World 
3. Culture/Society/Authority. The antagonist uses or abuses rules of society, authority, rules, or traditions to stop protagonist from being successful in reaching her goal.
4. Technology/Information/Networks/Sensors/Internet/Transport/
Energy/Agriculture/Architecture/Entertainment & Media/Arts & Music/Appliances/Industrial Machines/Clothing & Accessories/Medical/Assistive/Science/Space/Robotics/Artificial Intelligence/Superintelligence/
5. Supernatural Forces/superpower interaction/vision faculty, mentality-based powers  Belief in and practice of magic, spiritual, religious, medicinal  healing
6. Self – self-defeating, undervaluing behavior, lack of skills, lack of information, lack of self-control, fatal flaw.  The main character’s inner nature of what they usually do can create havoc to keep from reaching his goal.

My favorite villain/antagonists make me cringe and fearful for what they might do to the protagonist. Villains help make the stories unforgettable and fill you with fear for the hero. That’s the kind of story that’s hard to put down when you turn the pages. If it’s a movie, you want to see it to the very end. You expect surprise obstacles and known obstacles for your protagonist and they appear.

Resources:

Gabriela Pereira.  “Villains vs Antagonists:” https://diymfa.com/writing/villains-vs-antagonists

Zara Altar. “Villain vs Antagonist: How to Use Each in Your Book”

Now Novel. “Types of Antagonists: Creating Riveting Opponents”
https://www.nownovel.com/blog/types-of-antagonists/

 I hope this helped you understand that all antagonists are not villains. A villain is a special breed of antagonist who sets out intentionally to stop the protagonist from reaching his goal. A story can have many antagonists. Usually, there is only one main villain. 

Please leave a comment. Let me know what you believe makes a great antagonist. What makes an outstanding villain? Talk about your favorite antagonist or villain and why you like him or dislike him.

Do something fun!
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2020 Joan Y. Edwards

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