Getting the voice right for kids is easy right? It’s just a load of innits, whatever’s, and OMG’S! Bandying about.
But good books really good books don’t throw slang into every other sentence, and create a crappy old stereotype, they build a character. To be able to do this you’ve got to sustain the voice from beginning to end, be age appropriate, and build a believable character with something to say. This is definitely easier said then done.
So how do we do this?
If we’re lucky we can sometimes hear the character(s) in our head, and perhaps feel like we already know them. But we don’t always get that voice which instantly talks to us; so it’s imperative that we get to know who they are, to understand them more as a person, a three dimensional character, essentially a human being.
Sometimes I start by making a simple spider graph jotting down…Likes/Dislikes, Favourite food/colour/animal, Personality etc for my characters.
This information, doesn’t need to be detailed, just get a basic outline of the character you want to portray. Once you’ve jotted it all down, get writing. If you’ve already written it but the voice seems inconsistent, becoming younger or much older than its years. Highlight the dialogue that isn’t working particularly well, then write down on a separate sheet of paper a brief outline of the scene, if the scene is being shared with other characters mention this in the brief, as this may have a bearing on their behaviour. Then ask yourself HOW, WHAT, and WHY. Meaning: ‘If I were my six, eight, or ten year old character self’ How would I say it? Why would I say it? and What would I say?
Asking yourself these type of questions, will hopefully bring you closer to what you think would be the ‘True’ voice of your character. Personally I would avoid, saying stuff for saying sake, you’re most likely to lose the reader that way, which nobody wants. So check out my top six on getting that patter down!
Nailing that voice
1. Watch: Tv/film see how characters are portrayed in your target age group.
2. Read: Lots and lots of books, check out how other authors have managed sustaining a childs ‘voice’.
3. Observe: Real life, how kids act, sit, play, react, don’t react.
4. Get someone to read it-someone who’s got kids,or teaches them is a bonus- as they’ll most likely pick out the stuff that doesn’t quite fit.
5. Read it aloud, it’ll always sound different off the paper, and into the real world.
6. And last but not least have fun! Play around with the possibilities not only with the voice that you hear, but the voice that you’re getting to know.
Thanks for reading!
I’d like to say a special thank you to Diana S for commenting on my blog regarding voice which prompted me to write this post. Thanks Diana!