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July 10th, 2011, 12:03 pm

On Character Voices

I think I'm a pretty good writer.

There's an inherent danger in that kind of statement. When you think you've got something figured out, you become blinded to your own shortcomings in that area. Sure, you may objectively be better suited to a particular creative aspect than others, but when you start thinking you're the bomb, you stop trying to improve yourself, and can wind up in a place you didn't intend to go.

Take character voices for example. One way to spot a bad web comic is when none of the characters truly have their own "voice." A good test is by taking all the word bubbles on a page and swapping them randomly between characters. If you can't tell the difference in who's saying what, those characters probably need some reworking - something to make them unique - some actual *personality* of their own.

I don't think I'm that bad; I like to imagine that I could tell the difference between something Richter would say as opposed to Monet nine times out of ten, but such carelessness can extend even to basic character design. For example, take Tegan.

When I look back on her as she appeared in the first few strips, I'm actually quite surprised by what I see. She's... well, your stereotypical dumb blonde; an archetype I thought I'd be above creating. Fortunately she's evolved out of that on her own by now (you can't tell because as of this date I've written eight strips that haven't posted yet). Not satisfied with a complete two-dimensional caricature of a character (say that five times fast) she's become a little deeper, a little more introspective, and a little more of a real person instead of a one-note joke.

But the fact of the matter is I originally created her as a one-note joke without intending to. That's sloppy writing. When it comes to anything creative, especially when it uses multiple forms of media like comics (writing + art), there's a lot that can go wrong. The more moving parts in a machine, the easier it is for it to break. This extends to all forms of creative pursuit, from comics and writing to music and film. It's easy to get trapped in your own style.

Like everything else in life, I think the trick is to always be truly, deeply aware of what you're doing in the moment.

For now, it's back to the drawing board.

Comments:

SWBJr (Guest), July 18th, 2011, 5:29 am

Like I kind of wish there was some variation of a "like" button, or something, because I don't really have anything to say other than, "I agree."
That includes the part where you're a good writer. I do think your characters all have a different voice, and maybe that's what kept me going with the comic in the first place. Hope you don't mind my flood of comments. At least it's not "first!"

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