You know that catch-phrase for the USA Network's shows --"Characters welcome"?
It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. How to make your characters distinct from one another and how to give them their own voices.
I think I managed this pretty well with Aidon and Stephanie in Pomegranate Seeds, which remains one of the books of my heart. At least, I think I managed that at first. Their voices were completely different in the beginning.
But when Steph travelled to the Underworld and had to take on Aidon's responsibilities there, she began to sound more and more like him. After all, she couldn't very well remain the flightly girl she was Above after going Below.
Readers seemed confused about who they were, nevertheless. Perhaps the first person present tense made it difficult, but more likely, it was that I didn't truly introduce who they were and why they were and where they were and what they were.
We live, we learn.
It's very easy -- especially in a romance -- to just push your characters around, move them from scene to scene and bit of dialogue to another bit of dialogue without giving them true depth or purpose.
Focusing on their goals and motivations has never been the fun part for me. One of the reasons why I sometimes let them speak out here! (Also because that's fun for me. And allows me to procrastinate and pretend I'm working.)I hear their voices, learn what they want.
In Pomegranate Seeds, we don't learn who Aidon really is until his memory is wiped away and bits begin to return in odd splotches Steph can't decipher. Far too late.
But in Healing Hearts, Adam, a veteran of combat on the Peninsula, and Emma, who has lost her brother to battle, think in terms flavored with the smoke and thunder and weapons of war.
In Dream Voyager, Ryck, who has been closed off from sensory perception for years on the dreamscape, becomes dazzled and addicted to the scents and flavors of the modern world.
And ... Lara and Cole? Newspapers, guns, bad guys and scoops.
It's a way to texture the characters, to tell us who they are, to ground them, and to set them apart.
It's a work in progress.