Character Voices

by | September 28, 2020 | General | 3 comments

A recent article from The Guardian noted something that many writers are already familiar with – most writers hear the voices of their own characters. I’ve been able to hear my character’s voices ever since I was a child. I had imaginary friends like many children, and they had distinctive voices and inflections. Those voices carried over to the characters I created in fiction.

Researchers from Durham University found that 63% of writers interviewed listen to their creations. 61% feel they have their own agency. 56% indicated visual or other sensory experiences of their characters when they are writing. 15% said they could even enter in dialogue with their characters.

How well do you know your characters? Do you have their voices, smells, and desires inside your head, or have you written down a detailed grid what makes your character tick? I’m sure many writers know their character’s favorite color or favorite food. Those kinds of exercises are good practice for getting to know your characters. Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself about your character:

  1. What do you look like?
  2. Do you have any tattoos?
  3. Do you like coffee or tea?
  4. Dark or milk chocolate? (or do you not eat sweets at all)
  5. What’s your favorite holiday and why
  6. What’s your least favorite color?
  7. What is your favorite season and why
  8. What is your least favorite season and why
  9. What is your greatest fear
  10. What do you think of the other characters in the book?

Those are only ten examples. Writing down the answers helps to gel the character properly developed in your mind. I get to know my characters as I create them, but creating lists like this one helps me learn more. I’d ask things I normally wouldn’t ask, and when I get answers the book becomes more real for me.

What do you do to make your characters seem more real to you? How do you flesh them out? While plot is important to a story, character is equally important. Whether your story is character-driven or plot-driven, the characters need to be fully rounded for the story to have proper impact. Don’t make your characters empty shells since that risks creating a stereotype or caricature rather than a fully-fleshed person. The better you know your character, the better you are to hear what that character is trying to convey to you. In the end, you get a good story. And that’s how it should be.


Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Her LGBTQ paranormal erotic shifter romance novel “Full Moon Fever” is now available for purchase at Amazon and other book distributors. Her collection of erotic fairy tales, “Happily Ever After: Twisted Versions of Your Favorite Fairy Tales”, is also available at Amazon.

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Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.


  1. larry archer

    I agree, my characters all live in my mind and I can watch them act out everything. This makes it easy to write because all I have to do is copy down everything they say and do.

  2. Elizabeth Black

    I’ve heard that from other writers – they copy down what their characters do and say. Mine act out but not always in ways that end up on paper. Sometimes I get background info from listening to them talk.

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    I always like to find out where my characters, and their ancestors, come from. I rarely write a generic character who doesn’t have an ethnic backstory.

    Mostly, though, my characters don’t talk to me. However, when I start writing, they start talking on the page.

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