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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: I hear voices (v. 2)

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Sun, 5 Aug 2001
Reposted, revised: Sun, 23 Mar 2008
Reposted on: Sun, 27 Sep 2009
Reposted on: Sun, 24 Jul 2016

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a dialogue involving two or three
characters,each with a separate voice. Use a minimum of dialogue tags.
The voices should tell us something about each character and help us
tell the characters apart. Use narrative, but keep it to a minimum.

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Character voice is one of the tools the writer can use to define character and set the mood. Voice consists of many things: diction, pronunciation, rhythm,sentence structure, word choice, idioms used, level of grammar, recurrent topics or speaking habits, and so on.

Think of the voices in Tom Sawyer--they help us know the characters and the setting. The voices change to reflect the characters' moods. In a more recent example, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible is a great example of the use of voice. The narration in this novel alternates between five characters: the mother, and her four daughters. Each of those characters has her own voice, so that if I open the book at random, I can quickly tell which character is narrating.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a dialogue involving two or three
characters,each with a separate voice. Use a minimum of dialogue tags.
The voices should tell us something about each character and help us
tell the characters apart. Use narrative, but keep it to a minimum.

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When critiquing a submission, point out your impression of each character, based on the dialogue clues.


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.