How many of you saw "The King's Speech"? What a wonderful movie with fantastic dialogue. One of my favorite lines is "Because I have a voice". When Lionel Logue is trying to get Bertie to agree to working with him and why it's important that he say what he wants, the soon-to-be-king blurts out "because I have a voice!" So gloriously spoken by Colin Firth as the future king of England.
We have a voice and we all have something to say. But we also say it in different ways. Think about your characters and how you depict them. What they say in the story is just as important as what they do. Many times it's the combination of what they say and do at the same time because sometimes the two can be conflicting. When your heroine pines for the hero but is afraid to speak to him, we get a sense of her character, just like if heroine seduces the hero, but claims to not really be interested in him. When we were growing up we were always told – actions speak louder than words. When it comes to writing – you have to build believable characters so the reader feels the character would truly say "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" or "Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?" If you have built characters that make the reader feel along with them, then it's not hard for us to see Rhett walk out the door after having laid his heart bare for Scarlet. Just like we can see Scarlet's development into a mature woman when she realizes she truly does love him to say ask him what she will do.
Do your characters ring true or are they saying things that you want them to say, but are against their nature?
Whenever I am writing a story, there comes a point when the characters speak to me. It's that voice inside your head that says "I wouldn't do that" or "I wouldn't say that". Sometimes it doesn't happen until later that night when I'm sleeping. I'll be peacefully dreaming when all of a sudden I hear that little voice trying to wake me and correct some bad dialogue. Dialogue I probably struggled to write. You know exactly what I'm talking about – you get to a scene – you can see it in your mind and you begin to write it. Unfortunately, you know what I am going to say – the scene just doesn't ring true, but it's what you WANT the character to do. So, you force the character to say and do what you want them to do. Then, you go to bed or off shopping or whatever else you do when you take a break from your writing. Suddenly that voice starts whispering in your ear. "Excuse me, remember me? I'm your hero? I want to talk to you about that scene."
At first you try to ignore it because you just slaved over that scene. Maybe it took you hours to write it and you really hate to cut it out when you worked so hard on it. So you ignore the voice. But this voice will not be ignored. After all – just like Bertie said – I have a voice! Your characters have voices and they demand to be heard. You gave them life so now that are living and breathing inside this world you created, you cannot just ignore them and make them be good when they don't want to be good. Or worse – you want them to do something bad and they cluck their tongues at you and say "Oh, no, I would NEVER do that!"
You hate when this happens. But just like your own children – once you bring them into this world, you cannot suddenly silence them. They have a voice and they want to be heard. So, if this happens, rewrite. Rewrite with all the love you give your own children. We all know that each novel we write is like a child to us. Do not ignore them. When we ignore our children, something bad always happens. The same is true with your books – if you ignore your characters, the book will not become what it's meant to become.
Now, let's address your book. It's your voice. The voice you want to be heard. When you write a book, you are putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Nothing is more powerful than when someone reads what you wrote and says "YES! I feel that way too!" This is the type of connection you want your readers to have to your writing! So, the moral or message I'm trying to get across is – let your voice out! Listen to what your inner voice says and let it out!