We are constantly reminded about the need for diversity in our schools, in the work place, and just about everywhere. I think that, for the most part, we agree with that.
Or do we?
What about the characters in your stories? Does each character have a diverse voice? A unique personality? Or do your characters all sound like your narrator, or worse, like you?
While we draw a good deal of our characterizations from ourselves, and from the people around us, we tend to gravitate toward people who are in many ways like we are. Just how much diversity is there in that?
Now, I’m not talking about adding different races, cultures religions, languages or dialects, although that certainly does add to the mix. No, what I’m getting at is making sure that your characters stand out from each other.
We must each find ways to make our characters distinct, but how?
For starters, we can look at the old standbys. Facial or verbal “tics”, a clever turn of phrase that shows up often. What about more subtle “tells”?
How about one character having a better vocabulary than another? What about a character that stutters, or is often at a loss for words?
What I like is to do a one-page bio of each main, and primary supporting character. I want to have an idea what they look like, what they sound like, how they choose to speak and how they choose to treat others. Sometimes, if I can match up a famous face with my character, I’ll add a photo, and when writing about that character will have the bios and pictures handy.
How do you do it? How do you keep all your characters from sounding like the same person? I want to know.