Stopping the Author Voice Butting In by Allison Symes

Image Credit:  All images created in Book Brush using Pixabay pictures.

I want my writing to show a clear sense of who my characters are so it is their voices you hear and not mine. 

A tip I picked up years ago, which has stood me in good stead, is to remember it is the character’s story, not yours. 

You, their creator, are merely the conduit through which their story reaches the world.


Does that sound a bit pompous?

Not a bit, Allison, I hear you say. It’s a lot! 

Okay, but do you really want your author voice butting in disrupting the flow of the actions and dialogue of your created people (or alternative beings? I’ve written from the viewpoint of a mother dragon - as you do - so no species discrimination here, thank you).

Hmm… no then.

So how to do that? 

My way in here is to ensure I know my characters well enough before I write their stories. I do that with a simple outline.

Below is something I’ve used as a template.

Character Name
Character Type
Story Mood
Story Theme

Character Name

I don’t always know this immediately so I just use He/She/It to get me started. I’ve written many a story with an “it” and kept it at that if I want to write a flash tale which hints at the other worldly. Other times a suitable name will come to me as I’m drafting the story and I add it in later.

Character Type

Your character does not have to be human!

Story Mood

Sometimes I know what mood I want the story to be at once. That will affect the type of character I use for the story.

Story Theme

Sometimes I know the theme I want to write about, which dictates the character I need to “serve” that theme well.

Asking Questions 

I have interviewed my own characters. Now I work out what their main trait is and why. For example, someone who is courageous. How did they develop that? There are story ideas to be had just answering that.


Figuring Out What You Need to Know

Every writer will need to know different things about their characters before they get started. One way to work out what this might be for you is to look at the characters by other authors you love and figure out what it is that makes you a fan. If, say, you tend to love ironic characters, that is likely to feature in what you write. We love what we read. We write what we love. There is a circle there.

Once you know your character well enough, you will find it easier (note I didn’t say easy!) to write in their voice so yours doesn’t come through. A character must seem real to a reader to grip them and make them want to keep on reading. Author intervention gets in the way. 

So let’s hear from your characters then! What have they got to say for themselves?

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