This post is presented as part of the Steps of Power Blog Tour, to celebrate the release of book 1 – Kings or Pawns. Below you’ll find some great tips on how to develop a character’s distinct voice, plus a giveaway to win a range of goodies, including signed copies of the book!
Character Building: Distinct Points of View
It’s not just how they think, it’s how they speak as well
The characters in a story are everything to me. When I’ve long forgotten everything else in a book, the images and “feelings” of my favorite characters remain with me for as long as I have yet lived!
There are various ways to bring characters to life on a page and give each character point of view a unique personality. For example, two characters can look at the exact same scene, but will notice and remark upon different things. This is the most common method for well-developed character point of views, but for me, there is an additional tool that is the icing on the cake for most characters and stories!
And that is character point of view flavor.
What is this flavor I speak of? I’m talking about more than a character’s history, what she knows, and what she notices while she describes the events taking place. I’m talking about the flavor that allows you to hear a character describe something as simple as a chandelier and know exactly who is speaking (even if no name is mentioned). This type of flavor is rarely seen in force outside of first person point of views (delightful ones such as Bartimaeus rush swiftly to mind!)
But this same flavor can be crafted into a third person point of view and it is this flavor that makes it an extra special key to character building!
Let me give an example with several awesome characters from The Kings all observing the same event: a chandelier crashes into ground. (Even better: there are pictures! It’s like a picture book!)
The chandelier was actually quite lovely. Perhaps not as lovely as those chandeliers she had seen in Nilanos’ home, but it did its best in the soft candlelight to sparkle and gleam from the many-faceted stones.
However, it was rocking rather oddly. She paused a moment, watching its rhythmic swaying. There was something so enchanting about its movements that she could almost envision herself, a rich lady in the highest courts, fawned over by many handsome princes.
There was a sudden creak and groan and Alvena leapt aside with a silent yelp. The chandelier snapped from its golden chain and smashed into the ground before her, scattering the tiles with crystal and broken metal.
‘Ah! They’re terribly unsafe!’ she thought as she quickly slid away from all other hanging objects. She would not be getting one of those.
The chandelier was hideous. Yet another attempt at Sel’varian culture to string gold and jewels into every conceivable contraption. He was quite certain they’d have hung a dozen of the damn things up if they didn’t pose a threat to the integrity of the ceiling above.
‘It must weigh a god-damn ton,’ Jikun thought, eyeing its rocking cautiously. With all that gold-plated metal and crystal, a ton could not be that far off.
There was a sudden creak and groan and Jikun’s hand flew upward to form a wall of ice. He heard the chandelier smash into the marble floor, and as the wall dissolved to a puddle of water on the tiles, he could see that the hideous thing now lay in a thousand pieces.
‘At least the appearance of their ceiling has improved.’
The object was magnificent. Jerah had seen things like it before… of sorts. At least, of a similar color. Gold, like coins. But this item was polished to perfection and dangling with countless chunks of shiny glass. Jerah had not seen glass like that before, and he wanted desperately to have a piece.
But the object was much too high up, swinging about as though blown by some unfelt wind. At least, Jerah couldn’t feel any wind. He watched as it twisted about its golden chain, causing the links to tighten and twist.
And then there was a sudden creak and groan and Jerah dove to the side. The object snapped from its golden chain and smashed into the tiled floor, scattering the room with chunks of broken metal and glass.
Jerah was back on his feet in seconds. He could not waste this opportunity! He quickly identified an unbroken piece of glass and pocketed it.
In the center of the room, and the center of the ceiling in the center of the room, directly over the middle of the marble tiles full of their unlucky cracks, there was a chandelier.
‘Chandelier, oh chandelier! Thine beauty is diviiiiine! …Oh look. A pot.’
Eldaeus spun his way to the far corner of the room where the radiant pot seemed to glow in the sunlight. He plucked it up and admired it. He lifted the lid. ‘I could fit a bushel of apples in here. Or a dead cat.’
There was a sudden crash behind him, like glass and metal shattering across the floor, making it difficult to hear the fervent rally of voices debating about what color the cat should be.
‘I’m the master. I decide!’ Eldaeus pointed out. ‘…And it will be black. Black cats are just bad luck.’
I think the best way to make this work is to imagine the character in first person. Sometimes, if I’m struggling, I will actually write the character in first person and then go back and change it to third person!
Readers: who are some of your favorite characters? What do you think it would be like with that extra flavor (if they don’t already have it!)?
Writers: Try it! 😀 It is actually quite fun! Sometimes, it’s even easier than third person!
How important is that extra flavor to you?