How do you keep the different mannerisms and voices of all of your characters straight?
I mean, I could easily turn every single character in Blaze Tuesday’s world into a loudmouthed, uncouth, sarcastic fast-talking so-and-so, but that wouldn’t be realistic. (Well, I mean, the stories are set in a futuristic New York, and the stereotypes say that I could make everyone be loudmouthed, sarcastic and uncooperative but where would the fun be in that?) It also wouldn’t lend the distinction to Blaze’s particular speech patterns.
So I didn’t. Each of my characters has their own voice. Their own way of speaking.
But I have 4 major characters, about 10 secondary/recurring characters and a bloody army of bit parts and random encounters, victims, bartenders, witnesses, doctors, news reporters, and other general characters. Each one has a voice and something to say.
So how in the hell do you keep this all sorted out and organized in your mind?
Writing down basic notes is a good way to go about it. Just for you major and recurring characters. I find that any RPG character creation sheets are a great way to get the basics of what makes your characters tick put down in an easy to read manner. And then you have a binder filled with characters that you can reference easily.
Reading your dialogue aloud is another really handy tool. I do it all the time.
To be honest, when I was writing my Boondock Saints 3 spec script, I would read the dialogue aloud, to myself as I was writing and I did all the accents and voices. That was more helpful than I had anticipated, as both Connor and Murphy have different accents and different ways of speaking. (And yes, when I was reading aloud the lines I had written for Duffy and Dolly I did my terrible Boston accents.)
Reading your lines aloud, even if you don’t have an accent or anything like that for your characters, is a really great way to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You might look a little bit insane, but the people who know you will understand, and the people who question you might turn out to be your next biggest fan.
So what about you? Any ways you have developed to make your characters’ voices easier to remember? Hit me up in the comments.