Writing with Voice

November 7, 2011

Generally, writers fall into one of two categories: those who begin their work by either developing an intriguing plot or by creating vivid characters. In the end, a book needs both to be written well.

For the sake of this blog, I’ll focus on voice. What is it? Voice is the tone and personality of your character. Is your character sarcastic? Shy? Scared? Boisterous? You get the picture. The tone and personality of your character should shine in their dialogue and in their actions. Both, will create the “voice” you need to build a successful character.

When writing, google character profiles. You’ll find lists of questions to get you thinking about your people. Details make all the difference and can really add to voice. Here are a few ideas to get you started:


  1. Does your character have an accent? A stutter or a particular tick? What do they sound like?
  2. Does he or she have a bruise? Where and how?
  3. What is she or he afraid of? Spiders are a bit cliché, but everyone has at least one fear.
  4. What does this particular person crave? Do they allow themselves to eat it or do they only fantasize about it?
  5. Does your character were matching clothing? What about socks?
  6. How does your character feel about religion other than their own?
  7. If your character could own an exotic pet, what would it be and why?
  8. Pretend your character has a bed filled with stuffed animals. What would they name them? Brutus? Fluffy? Giovanni? Tic?
  9. What time of day does your character drink coffee? Black or loaded? Does your character avoid coffee and drink green tea?
  10. Does your character fit a particular cultural stereotype? And how does your character defy this cultural stereotype? Give them depth.

Finding voice must include tone. It must be complex at times, simple at others. Above all, a character must portray an identity that remains consistent throughout the piece. The more questions you ask, the more details you offer, the richer your character will become.





  1. […] https://carriebrownwolf.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/writing-with-voice/ a fun list of questions to ask yourself about your characters to enrich their descriptions […]

  2. Thank you for the tips. I’ve never done anything like this ahead of time with my characters. How interesting I’ll have to try it.

  3. I struggle with voice in my writing. I like what you said. It gives me some good things to consider.

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