I am loving the blind auditions of The Voice – not just because the talent is so outstanding, but because the whole message is so positive and inspiring. Even the singers who don’t turn any chairs are sent away with great professional advice and an explanation for why they didn’t move the coaches.
Standing out from the crowd is all about having a voice that is original, authentic and conveying a personal story along with the song. The same message could easily be used for writers.
A writer’s voice is a key element in story telling. A lot of people can tell a story but great writers have a unique and moving way of conveying their stories, using characters that are multi-dimensional and convincing.
I learnt a great deal about this when I started writing for Smitten – a new teen romance series. Most of the story is told from the girl’s point of view, but several chapters come from the guy’s side. This required me to work a lot harder to get inside the guy’s head and understand his background and motivations.
Some writers do extensive character development before they make a start on their story. If you’re tempted to do a comprehensive background interview with your main characters, here are 100 questions to ask. (Not mine – I don’t have the attention span for 100 questions)
The questions might be worth considering, even if you don’t answer them all, but the real skill is knowing which details to use in the story and which to use as backstory, so as not to overburden the reader with irrelevant detail.
It’s also worth noting that the whole point of the story is for the main characters to develop as they face challenges and conflict, so I find it easier to start with a character’s flaw and then work on building up their strengths and adding detail as needed.
Good luck getting to know your characters.