Monday, January 31, 2011

It's all about voicing, baby!

As you know, Keepers is taking up the majority of my free time these days, although I do try and squeeze in a book or WIP whenever I can.

For example, I've just finished reading a refreshing WIP by Mindy Ruiz. She is a wonderful writer who's bursting onto the YA scene.My favorite part of her work is the voice of her protag. She really has a grasp for being able to write in a way that the voice of her characters jumps off the page.  Well done, Ms. Mindy, well done!

This got me thinking about the most unique characters I've read about or seen on film. What are their characteristics? What makes them unique? What gives them their authentic voice?

Here are my top three:
#1 Yoda--I'm sure you know, but for the sake of someone who was either too young or lived under a rock in the seventies, Yoda is a character from the Star Wars series. Small, green, and extremely wise, Yoda's physique makes for interesting characterization, but his sentence structure is what sets him apart ... it's backwards. Italia Trent quoted Yoda just the other day. "Do, or do not. There is no try". Yoda's iconic turn of phrase is so well known that I've never seen it emulated, giving this character one of the best known voices of a generation.

#2 Voldemort--I think its safe to say that  JK Rowling is a queen of authentic voice. Every character is original, and so I was hard pressed to pick one. But when talking about voice, Voldemort is the one that stands out in my mind. The rhythm to his words are different from other characters, but this author uses descriptive scenes as well as character's reactions to really paint Voldemort with the darkest brush possible. Rowling is one of my favorite writers because all her characters have a distinctive voice. 

#3 Saltheart Foamfollower--One of the best fantasy series I've ever read was Stephen R. Donaldson's "The Thomas Covenent Series". Now unless you went to college in the early 80's, you might have never heard of these books. The first of the series has long since been out of print, and I, of course, didn't save my copies when I moved for graduate school. I ran across the first three books of the second chronicles and snatched them up, and I'm now scouring vintage stores, determined to create a set.  I haven't read this series in over twenty years, yet Saltheart's fierce compassion and ability to fight stayed with me. His voice so strong, I no longer remember what he did or why he did it, I just remember who he was and that I loved his voice. This is why Saltheart is on the top of my list.

Of course there's Mr. Darcy, the hobbits, the rats of Nyhm, Alice, the Shrew, Willy Wonka, the list goes on and on. Each character is brought to life through their mannerisms, scenery, and word structure. 

And so I'd like to know, what is your favorite fictional character that has a unique voice?