I still remember the feeling my first translation produced in me; dizziness, nausea and panic. It was about pipeline engineering and I understood two out of each ten words. This feeling repeated the first time I tried with medicine and then again with legal. I am so familiar with it that I recognized it immediately when I entered the English writers’ world.
The first time I read about viewpoint character and characterization I understood each word in itself, but the message didn’t pass my skull. I have read dozens of blog posts and articles about this subject and I have come to digest the information.
All my characters talk like me. When they want to make an analogy, they do my analogies. “The air came out of his lungs with the hissing sound of an over-pressurized pipe.” The character is not an engineer, he would not think on such analogy but I do. Somewhere I read the character needs a voice of her own so you might want to mind her origin. Meaning if she’s from New York, make her talk like a New Yorker. If she’s from Texas, then make her speak like Southern speak.
First of all I am from Mexico. If I have no idea whatsoever how a Texan speaks, kill me if I know how a person from Mumbai speaks (99% of my characters are Indian). I decided to ignore that advice and find other traits to give characters their own voice. Rayne Hall gave me a golden piece of advice: Speech Patterns. Each person had a speech pattern according to her specific personality.
Research mode on, I looked for further information about Speech Patterns and took a dive into the world of Psychology. I came out with few pieces of information from several sites that helped me with my characters’ voice and I share them here.
I found there are four types of personality. They are stereotypes and I know stereotypes are not the best way to go with a character but they serve as guidelines. They helped me to reveal a lot of traits about my characters, and therefore, how would they express themselves.
Speech patterns: “I, my, mine, me” World is about them
Priorities: living for the moment, and having fun
Appearance: Trendy, bright and colorful.
Terrible with details and forgetful. They talk too much and often do so without thinking. They are always late for everything. Bad savers and indecisive people. They tend to lie when they get in trouble and rarely look at the long-term consequences of their short-term fun. They tend to have a lot of drama in their lives. Jump from project to project. Have a hard time finishing tasks. Short attention span. Take rejection personally.
They are animated fun and enthusiastic. They are optimistic, playful, and bubbly. They make everyone around them happy and relaxed. They are spontaneous, the “life of the party”. Love social settings. Dance clubs, seminars, rallies, parties. Love planning parties. Good motivators. Quick to make decisions and easy to empathize. They like to stand out and be different.
Anyone that tries to take away their fun, people who are too forceful. Rigid rules, alarm clocks or any time constraint period. They dislike serious people, and those who ask too many questions. They dislike talk radio and news reports.
Hate boring and tedious tasks. Hate uniform or anything that makes them feel like everyone else. They hate feeling stupid. They hate school settings and school work.
They love the spotlight. They love the sun and the beach. Having fun and knowing that they are in the “in” crowd and they are liked. They love fast cash and dream big. They love to go out and shop. They love loud music and dancing; all that is fashion and looking great; telling jokes or stories; laughing and adventure. Some are Dare devils. Roller coasters, body piercing, and tattoos are their thing. They like fine jewels. They crave for variety and they are always curious. Talk in slang. Love giving and receiving complements. Love to make up stuff, recipes, stories, etc. They like to improvise.
How to win their graces (This works as ideas for plot):
Tell them stories to make your points.
Focus on short term objectives such as making fast cash.
Let them know that you will be there to help them when they need you.
Smile and laugh with them.
Make it fun for them.
Tell what to do but do it nicely.
Speech patterns: Questioning (what, where, why, who)
Priorities: Facts and organization
Appearances: very average, nothing too bright or expensive.
They have a problem with being too cautious, paralysis by over-analysis. They are very suspicious and tend to be the most pessimistic. Small talk is useless for them and they tend to be introverted. They love facts. They would rather be right than rich. They let their ego’s get in the way. They take a long time to make decisions; perfectionists. Don’t show excitement.
They are very accurate, dependable, efficient and prompt. Usually they are educated. Up on current events; extremely organized and computer savvy. They usually get good results as long as they have precise plan to follow. Good memories.
They abhor sloppy people, un-organized people; spontaneous actions; surprise parties; anything that is unexpected. Hate liars. They lose respect for people who are late. They don’t like flashy people who waste money away. They can’t stand exaggerations or hype. Not good on public displays of affection. Don’t like shopping, distractions or change. Hate not receiving credit for stuff they do. Hate people to micro manage them. Don’t like procrastinators, lazy people. They don’t like improvising. Hate not having the correct tools for their projects. Hate long stories, they just want the facts. Dislike going to parties, loud noises and loud people.
They like to reach and achieve objectives. They like being “online” CNN, details, and facts. Like to save money any way they can. They like things and people to be on time and predictable. They like accuracy and honesty. They like order structure, planning and being prepared.
Like to micro manage, confirm information, to do research. Love technology. Some love video games, computer programming, science fiction movies and books. Some thinkers always have a pen in their pocket.
Thinkers are information seekers. Fold their arms a lot. Like to point out when other people are wrong. Love learning new things. They take the time to inform you of your spelling mistakes on blog post, emails, etc.
How to move them:
Provide a special plan to achieve their immediate objectives.
You need to give them the facts and leave them alone
Give them logical reasons to do your business.
Make sure you avoid any emotion, it turns them off.
Priorities: communication, creating, helping others.
Speech patterns: Interest in those around.
Appearance: casual and informal.
Overly sensitive. They have a tendency to get pushed around or even get walked on by others. They take things very personal, especially rejection. They are not goal oriented, and always buy people’s excuses. They hold grudges. Trust people easily. Hesitant when asked questions and take long time thinking about the answer.
They are easy to get along with and are great listeners. They have a lot of genuine friends. They’re unselfish and cooperative. They are extremely creative. They are dedicated and patient, warm and supportive.
They hate greedy, selfish, loud, pushy people. They don’t like profanity. Hate people who destroy our environment or animals, materialism and arrogance. Hate when things aren’t fair. Don’t like Emails and other impersonal things, making tough decisions and gossipers.
They like to make difference in people lives. Peace and harmony. They love to read a good book, and art. They like to volunteer their time. Family oriented, they love the outdoors and are very spiritual. They like to help people with their problems. Love and hugs. They’re very touchy feely people. Like talk shows. Crave attention. They are people watchers. Love soft music and long term friendships. Calm settings. Some are into health food and recycling things, growing a garden.
How to move them:
They love story tellers
Show genuine concern about what their needs are
They don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.
Nicely suggest what they should do.
They are emotional buyers.
Show the big picture in relation to helping thousands of people
Speech patterns: fast and loud, commanding
Attitude: Aggressive, direct.
Appearance: formal, classy, flashy
Very self centered and egoistical. They tend to forget other people have feelings. They are usually closed off emotionally, and very sensitive to criticism. They are selfish, difficult to learn new things because they know it all. Not sympathetic or understanding of other needs or situations. They can appear rude, arrogant and pushy. It’s their way or the high way. They are bad listeners. They can easily get addicted or obsessive. Have anger issues. Steal the credit of others’ achievements. Cut other people off when they are talking.
These are our natural born leaders. They are fearless. They are goal oriented and thrive on competition. They are self sufficient, dynamic and energetic, independent people. They are very decisive and determined. They seek confrontation. They don’t hold grudges and are quick to answer questions.
They don’t like small talk. They hate cheap stuff, and they hate waiting. They don’t like showing emotion. They don’t like to be followers. They hate losing. They hate lazy people. Hate showing their weaknesses. Hate gold diggers. People who over promise and under deliver, wimps. They hate tourist class, coupons and video games. Slow people in fast lane. People’s excuses. Hate being wrong. Hate not having money. Long winded people. Other people’s opinions.
They like to get things done in a hurry. They like challenges. They like giving you their credentials. They enjoy taking risks and expensive designer brands. They like power. They must be in control. They like to control conversation. Thrive for success. Love being on stage, flashy expensive things, sports cars, jewelry, clothes. Being V.I.P at events, private parties, shopping. Money. Love being right and exposing people’s weaknesses. Like sports. They want to know how long, how fast, they’re on the now clock. Like to know what’s in it for them. They’re on the fast track.
How to move them:
Let them know what you can do for them.
Give them options, not opinions.
Show them the big picture and how they can prominently fit into it.
Play up their egos.
You have to use the take away on them.
This is but a bit of what I found. I'll be sharing a bit more of the character's possible psyche in the next post. If you liked it you're free to leave a comment, or food for the dwarves.