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Losing my character's voice


JayT

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So, I was wondering if anyone else has lost the voice of their characters in their head. I haven't been able to write anything worthwhile for over a year on my story TJ and I don't know what to do. I need to find a way to find TJ's voice again. 

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I hope this topic generates some good replies.  Usually what I have to do is reread however much of the story I have, and then work on a few scenes with the character to get back into their heads, even if they don't end up being part of the story.  

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Those are all good points. Re-reading the story gets you back into it. I also find it useful to write short pieces from the main character's point of view, totally unrelated to the story. He could be remembering a day out, writing a journal entry or describing a memorable event. These help to get you back inside your character’s head.

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18 hours ago, JayT said:

I need to find a way to find TJ's voice again. 

I would read all TJ's scenes and note briefly in two seperate columns his reactions, his mode of speech. From this list you should (easily?) see TJ's common traits and how he is with people and situations. You should see how he talks, his common expressions and way of talking. 

That should get you knowing about and feeling who TJ is. If you start writing from that background and you are thinking to yourself, have I got it right? Don't worry, people do change, they aren't always the same forever. Actually, people changing can put pep into a story. Example: "TJ, you never used to think like that." "I know, but after... I changed," TJ gave a little smile. "I got the right to change, don't I?"

Don't give up, just put some work into re-reading when you have time. Good luck.

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There are these dating advice things out there. They go something like: Don't commit to anyone until you've seen them sick, stuck in traffic, dealing with a major loss, until they have to deal with a situation when they are not in control, etc. I like that as a character exercise too, particularly if your character has never really been in those circumstances. Even if that writing never sees the light of day, it will inform your writing later; it also reaffirms who TJ really is to you.

The other folks here have offered some good advice. Read him, take note of his mannerisms and values, check to see if those mannerisms/values shift over the course of the story - and if that was intentional or not. If the story is about his growth as a person, then they very well may shift. The trick is to show it as growth and not as drift (if that makes sense).

I wish you luck. I just got back to writing again myself, so I know it's a struggle.

Edited by Wayne Gray
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What helps me get back into a character's mindset after I have lost the mojo; I usually take the last piece of content I have written, and I act it out. It may be funny at first, but it does help me to get into the temperament. I've asked my boyfriend quite a few times to be a stand-in character for me when I'm stuck. I even set an entire scene by setting random placeholders around a room, so it corresponds to an item in the story, if needed. Think of kids using sticks in a forest when they are having an imaginary gunfight. Writing is supposed to be fun; make it entertaining. It makes me feel like I am better involved...; I also found what works is blearing your characters' favorite music to get inspired. Most humans love some form of music, and since it is a personal thing, it can give you a better feel for the type of emotion your character might be feeling. Most interactions are irrational and are not planned. Asking questions is good, but I find the longer I worry about who they are... I find it easier to relate when you attempt to be them for a short time. At least in theory, not in real life, lol.

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Sometimes I associate a song with a character, like a main theme. It’s strange, but sometimes the right song can capture the spirit of a character and then when I listen again to that song the ‘flavor’ of that character will come back to me. 

Case in point, I have a character nicknamed ‘Snowflake’ and I found this song that eerily described the person as he took shape in my mind and heart:

I listen to this song and he comes back to me...always! ❄️

Edited by MrM
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Do you meditate? I've written a couple of stories on another site and when the characters voices became quiet I would meditate. You don't need to start like I do with smudging (cedar, sweet grass, sage) but I first spend time clearing the mind. May take a couple of tries but then once cleared I created a campfire in my mind. Sitting there, I invited my characters to join me where we talked about many things.  I've been very fortunate in that my characters dictated a couple of stories to me, I just typed. There was a suggestion previously to write down columns with various types of statements within them for each person, and its a great idea to do that first then meditate. Worked for me, but hopefully you find something which works for you.

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On 1/17/2021 at 5:18 PM, JayT said:

So, I was wondering if anyone else has lost the voice of their characters in their head. I haven't been able to write anything worthwhile for over a year on my story TJ and I don't know what to do. I need to find a way to find TJ's voice again. 

I wonder if part of the problem is that T.J. has mellowed a lot, so his voice is a lot less distinct (which is not a bad thing in terms of character development, but I can see why it might make him harder to write).  Why not try writing a scene between him and Josh's mother, where all the vitriol T.J. can muster would never be too much?  Or perhaps an argument scene between T.J. and Robert, where both are really riled up about something?  Either should give T.J. his voice back.

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