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Majority of authors `hear` their characters speak


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https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/27/majority-of-authors-hear-their-characters-speak-finds-study

 

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Some writers have always claimed they can hear their characters speaking, with Enid Blyton suggesting she could “watch and hear everything” and Alice Walker describing how her characters would “come for a visit ... and talk”. But a new study has shown this uncanny experience is very widespread, with almost two-thirds of authors reporting that they hear their characters’ voices while they work.

 

Researchers at Durham University teamed up with the Guardian and the Edinburgh international book festival to survey 181 authors appearing at the 2014 and 2018 festivals. Sixty-three per cent said they heard their characters speak while writing, with 61% reporting characters were capable of acting independently.

 

“I hear them in my mind. They have distinct voice patterns and tones, and I can make them carry on conversations with each other in which I can always tell who is ‘talking’,” said one anonymous writer. “They sometimes tell me that what I have in mind for them isn’t right – that they would never behave or speak that way. I don’t usually answer back,” said another.

 

Are you part of this majority? Share your thoughts on the matter. 😃

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definitely not me. 🙂  I've never had any such experience. Though I'm not sure I can describe how things come to me when I write. Visualizing is a big part of it, but it's not as if they come or talk to me. I think personally, I see it as I try to visualize the reality of my novel and play it forward like watching a movie. Then I try to write down what I see... if that makes sense whatsoever. 

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Some characters just appear from nowhere fully formed, distinct in their mannerism and voice. Others take time to develop.

 

The same with scenes. Some will play out before me with little direction. Others have to put together like a patchwork quilt.

 

 

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My characters often speak to me. They usually say something like: "Seriously? That's my dialog? Who says things like that? Please write me better or find someone who can!" 😒

 

 

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My characters only ever said, "if you continue shreading the pages after you print them at this rate, you're going to have to go to the store and buy more paper and ink."

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For me, it's like watching a movie. Sometimes I know what they're going to say - sometimes they surprise me. But I never for an instant feel anything mystical is going on, it's just like playacting. 

I read a book to my grandkids over Zoom tonight - it was like that.

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10 hours ago, HK1 said:

I wouldn't say I can hear them, but over the course of writing a book, I learn how they talk and what kind of things they would say. Like @Jared Williams, I write kind of like I'm watching a movie :)

I third you on that. Sometimes if there's a certain person I know or have seen and I've heard their voice then I can hear them when they talk. Kinda.

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When I can hear the characters in my head, I know they are becoming real. But the most interaction I've had with one personally was when he quietly stepped forward and stated that he was more important than I first realized. 

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On 4/30/2020 at 9:17 AM, Claire Tucker said:

stated that he was more important than I first realized. 

I had the same thing. I think I've said it on here before. He was meant to die "offscreen" early on and the other characters would hear about it. Well, he wasn't having any of that and decided that he would be very much alive and a main character, thank you very much. 

 

That said, I don't know that I hear my characters talk. I just know what they want to do, and sometimes it's in direct opposition to my plans for them. 😂

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I only hear some of my characters talk, though it is usually villains. I'm perfectly aware that I'm making up what they're saying, I'm just doing it so fast that I'm not consciously thinking their words before I imagine them saying it.

 

One of the most fun characters I've gotten to listen to in my head is the sushi chef in my current work-in-progress. He's the mentor/buddy to the protagonist. I stole his accent and voice from the owner at my favorite sushi restaurant, but he's got the trickster/joker attitude in spades, which I don't think his real life inspiration does.

 

Here's an excerpt:

 

Firmly in his element, John instructed him, “Go home. Get some rest. Drink plenty of fluids. When... If it gets bad, just go to the hospital and they’ll take care of you. I’m sure they’re not even that busy yet.”

 

John pointed the gun barrel at the man as he slinked off to his car, got in, and finally slowly rolled away.

 

Amazed, John looked over at Hiro. “Wow, I didn’t really think that would work.”

 

The Japanese man stared at John. “That’s food torch. What you going to do? Run up to him and burn little spot on him?”

 

“Hey, he didn’t know that. I bet he thought it was a real gun. Besides, I didn’t see you doing anything to get him to go away.”

 

“Not true. Offered him take out.”

 

Reluctantly, John admitted, “Actually, that probably would have worked on me.”

 

“Yes. But, he crazy. Can’t predict crazy. Never marry crazy. My girl wouldn’t have been crazy. Too bad she didn’t want to come to America.” After a wistful sigh, the Japanese man turned to John. “Can I have torch back now? Your roll will need it.”

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