Okay, so I’m not an expert by any means, but before my massive revision I had one resounding note from people who read my book.
“The dual narrative voices were too similar”
How disheartening because they were SO incredibly distinct in my mind. Writers can attest that you know your characters and of course know their “voice” so when that is not portrayed on the page, it’s difficult to know where to start.
Yet when I went back and started revising… you can guess it… the further into the book it got, the more similar they sounded.
Here are three tips I picked up while revising:
1. At the beginning, exaggerate their voice. I went back through and revised my male character and probably went overboard on everything from curse words to slang and whatever to differentiate. I needed to get in a rhythm of his voice and figure out how he would say the things he was already responding too. He’s not going to say “what was that?” he’s going to say, “What the hell?” He’s not going to wax on poetically in his internal monologue, he’ll be more dry, but also intense. In my effort to differentiate and set his tone, I accidentally made him wildly misogynistic. Oops! Had to rein that one back in 🙂 After I went overboard, I revised all his chapters back down to make him more realistic and relatable, but overall it really helped to establish his voice.
2. Revise one POV at a time. In my novel it was basically an every other chapter kind of split (though it did vary) and so I would ONLY revise one character POV at a time. So that would be revising chapters 1,3,5… and go all the way to the end. Then I would start back over at 2,4,6… This helped me SO much in keeping in the “head” of my character.
3. Read your chapters out loud. This is particularly useful when you are having voice issues. You just may realize that they are sounding more similar. Also, while reading out loud, tweak as you go rather than go back.
If you’re writing YA, pretty much make sure you only use contractions (aka: it’s rather than it is). This helps establish voice in YA characters and can be used to differentiate voice as well.
So these are a few things I picked up while trying to differentiate my dual POV! Hope these help!