(Listen or watch this writing tip on Youtube)
Here's part 2 of my article on character voice. In part 1(you can read it here) I came up with this formula:
What the Character Thinks or Talks about + How She Says it = Voice
And I discussed the first portion of it, using Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings as examples. They often choose to talk about food and rarely talk about battle tactics. Also note, that what your character chooses to say in a given situation often reveals what he's thinking about in that moment. Today I'll explore the next part.
How Your Character Talks
Education, culture, experience, interests, and social circles factor in to how your character delivers his lines. Consider speech patterns and word choice as well.
Back to my examples of the nutritionist, the fashionista, and the dentist from last time. Their interests influence how they speak. They will have a wider range of vocabulary for dieting, clothes, and teeth. The fashionista, for example, probably wouldn't say, "she's wearing a blue shirt." She'd say, "she's wearing a teal tunic with lace along the hem, Swarovski drop earrings, and she's carrying a patent leather Coach purse in coral."
Listen to how the Hobbits talk:
"It's like the great stories, Mr. Frodo. . .Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think I do, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. . . . .Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something." --Samwise Gamgee
Notice words like "Mr. Frodo," and "Folk," help establish Sam's voice. Pretend, instead, Gandalf said this. The words and speech patterns would be different. Instead of "lots of chances" he might say "many opportunities." He might pause in different places and use different sentence structures. He's far more educated and experienced than Sam, so he'd say those same thoughts in a different way.
Then think how Gollum would say those thoughts. . . oh, wait, he wouldn't say those thoughts. Gollum doesn't think like that. That's voice too.