How to Write Dialogue with Distinct Character Voices [Novel Boot Camp #15]

Characters should have their own distinct voices in dialogue so that they sound unique and realistic. In this video I go over some elements of your characterization and backstory that can help you develop unique manners of speaking for the characters in your novel


Video Highlights

  • When developing distinct dialogue for each character, it’s helpful to consider five key elements: their upbringing, their education level, their career, their worldview, and the year they were born (their generation).
  • Making a guide to how each character speaks can be helpful. Jotting down just a few sentences or paragraphs to give yourself the “flavor” of each character’s dialogue can help guide you during revisions.
  • Editing all of one character’s dialogue at a time can help you to sink into their head space without the distraction of other character voices and the narration.

Do your characters have unique voices?

It’s easy to write characters who all sound the same. Hopefully the tips in this video help you to diversify your characters’ voices so they feel stronger and more realistic.

If you have any questions about creating distinct voices in dialogue, post them in the comments.

Thanks Matt for requesting this video!

You can still submit questions for the Q&A session.

The workshop #2 novel openings are still available for critique. Please don’t forget to critique at least five submissions!

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6 thoughts on “How to Write Dialogue with Distinct Character Voices [Novel Boot Camp #15]

  1. Brett Mumford says:

    I can see the logic to what you are saying and it makes perfect sense. I have a challenge though in that my current novel is not set on Earth, or using Humans. So I am open to any tips on creating unique voices for characters that cannot make use of the same cultural references. Some of what you said still applies, their career choices, their individual education and personal experiences. Do you have any other suggestions to try so readers can ‘see’ the character?

  2. Douglas Hazelrigg says:

    Some of the best advice I’ve heard on this particularly challenging issue is to really, really know your characters. If you really know them, you will have an instinctual feel for they would and would not say.

  3. Nicole L Ochoa says:

    I was talking to my husband about this last night, I was expressing how much going through a character questionnaire truly affected how my characters reacted in certain scenes. I know it sounds sill to spend the little time we have on answering questions about our character that we will most likely never use, but I have found knowing the answers to certain things about my character has helped me to know how he/she might react to a certain situation, thus giving them a unique voice.

    I have never heard the idea of editing ALL of one character’s dialog at one time. I am excited to give that a try.

  4. Pam says:

    Excellent tips! I especially like the idea of a guide with a few lines from each character to refer to. Editing one character at a time is another great suggestion.

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