I've talked about my participation in e-wrestling previously and wanted to present a couple of examples of my work there to illustrate what voice is all about.
E-wrestling is a hobby in which people write about a character who happens to be a pro wrestler. Like a character in a book, those who create e-wrestlers need to think about the backstory, the personality, the temperment and the viewpoint of the character. What differs from a book is that the characters interact with characters that other people have created, as opposed to the characters all created by a single writer.
I'm going to present two examples of my writing from e-wrestling, these from the most recent show of the e-fed that I am part of. While I won't proclaim either example to demonstrate what the best writing is all about (and neither one would be written in most books exactly as they are presented), they will give you examples of the same person writing two different characters and finding a different voice for each.
Take a look at the examples and see if you can distinguish between the two.
EXAMPLE ONE: Supernova is a character who is an homage to the professional wrestler Sting. His gimmick is similar to Sting, in that he wears face paint and is intense in his interviews and mannerisms. The interview is Sweet Lou Blackwell, an homage to pro wrestling backstage interview Mean Gene Okerlund.
[We go to backstage where Sweet Lou Blackwell stands in front of an AWA backdrop.]
SLB: What a card we have at SuperClash tonight, in which we will see all four titles go on the line! And the first of those title matches involves the World Television Championship and a rivalry that has been ongoing for almost a year... the champion, Shadoe Rage, is set to meet my guest at this time, Supernova!
[Supernova walks onto the set. His face is painted black and yellow, resembling a flame. He wears a black jacket with yellow epaulets on the shoulders and a big, flaming, yellow sun on the left side near his chest. He also wears his black tights with yellow flames running up the side and black wrestling boots, each with a small, fiery sun on the sides.]
SLB: Supernova, tonight you will get one more chance at the World TV title, and this time around, there will be no time limit! You told everyone at the start of the year that you were setting your sights on championship gold, but one obstacle in previous meetings with Shadoe Rage was the time limit expiring. Tonight, that will be one less obstacle for you to face. How do like your chances?
S: Sweet Lou, it's interesting how you bring up history, how you bring up what I told everyone at the start of 2015, that I had set my sights on becoming a champion! You know, that video package that aired on All-Star Showdown showed me in action against Calisto Dufresne, the man who held the National title back in 2011 at SuperClash III! That was my first real shot at a title, not just a spot in a tournament, and some people thought that, even though I came up short of winning the gold, it was only a matter of time before I won a championship!
[He looks at the camera.]
S: But as some might say, history sometimes gets in the way. I had to deal with a lot of obstacles to getting back into the title hunt... obstacles like William Craven, Royalty, The Unholy Alliance and the Wise Men! Now, don't get me wrong, Sweet Lou... I understand that the road to a championship isn't going to be smooth, there are some bumps you've got to get over and you might get off course at times, but as long as you learn from those things, you get better at what you do. That means, when the time does come for another shot at the gold, you've grown and you've learned, which makes you better prepared for another shot. But you know that it hasn't been that easy since I first got the shot, do you, Sweet Lou?
SLB: As I've mentioned earlier, the time limit got in the way a couple of times.
S: [slight laugh] Yeah, there was that, but there was more. But sticking with what you're talking about, Sweet Lou, the first couple of times there was that question about what would have happened if Shadoe Rage and I had gone into overtime! And the next time we sought to answer that question, along comes the Dead Man's Party, who decides to crash the party and not allow Shadoe Rage and I to settle the question! And, once again, I understand that sometimes you have to deal with an obstacle in the road if you want to eventually get yourself championship gold, but what happened instead after Rising Sun Showdown?
[He looks at the camera once more, his eyes narrowing.]
S: Shadoe Rage starts looking for excuses, looking for ways to avoid, spent more of his time facing guys who, while they are good people, weren't exactly what you would call the top contenders, all because Rage was picking his opponents. Heck, when I was sitting on the sidelines waiting to get doctor's clearance to return to the ring, the only guy he faced who would be a worthy contender was Rex Summers... a guy I don't like, a guy who doesn't like me, but I will admit that he's a great wrestler. And yet the only reason Rage faced Summers was not because Rage wanted to, but because he had to, and he still couldn't get the job done without taking a shortcut!
[He shakes his head.]
S: And nothing annoys me more than watching a champion who makes a mockery of everything by picking and choosing who he faces instead of getting in the ring with the guys who have proven their mettle... and especially when he did everything he could to do to avoid facing me and erase the doubts that I can tell are in the back of his mind! [Deep breath.] You know, I'm about to use that language that George Carlin says you can't say on TV. You take it, Sweet Lou!
SLB: Well, Supernova, let's not forget that it was Shadoe Rage who put you on the shelf for several weeks when he hit that running knee to your head, moments after you jumped him and tore his robe apart. You know that Rage takes a lot of pride in his pomp and circumstance, as it were. And I think we both know Rage is none too happy with you interrupting his planned video package with a package of your own. Rage could very well want to put you on the shelf again, this time for good!
S: Sweet Lou, I know that Rage is a dangerous man. I realize he's only getting hotter under the collar with each passing day that he can't shake me off! But Rage had better realize that I have as much reason to be hot under the collar as he does! I already sat on the shelf for months at a time after the Wise Men made me a marked man. And the only reason I didn't show up sooner was because a man by the name of Jim Watkins not to reveal all your cards right away and wait for the right moment. This time around, I didn't need to talk to Jim Watkins to know that the only thing to do was to get back in that ring as soon as I got the green light from my doctors. And I knew that the only thing there was to do was to make Rage realize that when you try to take somebody out of this sport, you better keep both eyes open at all times because you never know when that somebody may come back for your hide!
[Supernova takes another deep breath.]
SLB: Supernova, one other matter that should be addressed is that the TV title match, like all other title matches, will have a special guest referee. None of those guest referees have been identified yet. There's been speculation that the guest referee could be anybody past or present in the AWA, maybe somebody who has never appeared in the AWA! How is that going to play a role in this match tonight?
S: All I'm gonna say is that whoever has the job of being the special guest referee better realize that he's got a hungry challenger. A challenger who's hungry to get his hands on a man who has been avoiding me like the plague! A challenger who's hungry to take down a man who has been handpicking challengers who aren't among the best instead of clearing the doubts in his mind about that one opponent he can't put away! A challenger who's hungry to even the score against a man who would rather put me in a hospital bed than prove he has what it takes to beat me one on one! And a challenger who has been in the AWA for more than six years, who has given his blood, his sweat and his tears to this fine organization, and is really hungry to get his first taste of championship gold!
[He pounds his chest a couple of times.]
S: THE HEAT IS ON IN HOUSTON TONIGHT AND SHADOE RAGE IS GONNA FEEL IT, I CAN PROMISE YOU THAT!
[He cups his hands to his mouth, howls and walks off the set.]
SLB: Ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt Supernova is ready, but the question is, will he come away with the title that he is after? Back to you, Gordon!
EXAMPLE 2: The Gladiator is an homage to professional wrestler The Ultimate Warrior. His gimmick is that he believes himself to be a gladiator from ancient Rome. The interview is Mark Stegglet, who represents a general backstage interviewer without a distinct personality.
[We go to backstage where Mark Stegglet stands in front of an AWA backdrop.]
MS: Later tonight, fans, we will see a match that has been billed as The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object. Two men who are undefeated in singles competition since their arrivals in the AWA will come face to face for the first time. On one side of the ring will be the massive King ONI, under the management of Dr. Harrison Fawcett, and on the other side of the ring will be this man, The Gladiator.
[As if on cue, The Gladiator walks onto the set. He is dressed in black trunks with matching kneepads and wrestling boots. He wears a Roman gladiator helmet and...]
G: Aaarrrggghhh aaarrrggghhh aaarrrggghhh.
[...he's doing that. He paces back and forth in front of Mark Stegglet, continuing to growl.]
MS: Gladiator, you have torn through the competition since you have arrived in the AWA. But back at the Rumble match in Hawaii, you crossed paths with King ONI for the first time. Since then, all signs pointed to you and he coming face to face in the ring. But 10 days ago, ONI and Anton Layton attacked you and left you laying. What is your condition going into tonight's match?
[Gladiator grunts and growls for several seconds before he speaks.]
G: They have told me that there is no honor among thieves, and what happened 10 days ago proves beyond a shadow of any doubt that Harrison Fawcett and his mongrels have no honor. Men with no honor can never understand the path of a true gladiator, unlike my gladiators who continue to follow me into battle day in and night out. Anton Layon and King ONI might have hurt me, but they have failed to stop me. Failed to stop me on my journeys through these lands, failed to stop me on the path to this moment that is almost upon us, what you refer to as an irresistible force against an immovable object.
[He turns to the camera, raises a finger and raises his voice.]
G: I AM INDEED THAT IRRESISTIBLE FORCE THAT HAS TORN THROUGH THESE LANDS, BUT I LOOK AT THE SO-CALLED IMMOVABLE OBJECT AND I SEE THE CRACKS IN THE FOUNDATION! CRACKS THAT MAKE IT EVIDENT THAT THE LIKES OF KING ONI AND ANTON LAYTON DO NOT STAND UPON THE SOLID GROUND, BUT UPON THE SAND THAT THE FOOLS WILL ALWAYS TRY TO BUILD UPON! I COME FORWARD INTO BATTLE TONIGHT, TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE PATH OF A TRUE GLADIATOR ONLY MAKES ME STRONGER, ONLY PROVES THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO DEVIATE FROM THE PATH ARE WEAK IN BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT! ANTON LAYTON ONLY DEMONSTRATED HOW WEAK HE WAS WHEN HE SUCCUMBED TO HARRISON FAWCET'S FALSE PROPHECIES, AND TONIGHT, I SHALL LEAVE NO DOUBTS IN ANYONE'S MIND WHO IS TRULY THE STRONGEST IN THESE LANDS WHEN I DESTROY THE FOUNDATION BENEATH KING ONI AND SHOW THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON SHAKY GROUND!
G: SNORT snaaarrlll SNORT!
[...that happens and Gladiator goes back to pacing behind Mark Stegglet.]
MS: Still, Gladiator, you heard the comments from Harrison Fawcett. In the past year alone, he has not only influenced King ONI, but the likes of The Lost Boy, Porter Crowley and Anton Layton. And now, tonight, he says he will add you to his collection!
[Gladiator stops pacing and turns to Stegglet, Gladiator's voice lowered again.]
G: Harrison Fawcett speaks yet another false prophecy, but this time it is no surprise at all. For he cannot understand the power I have harnessed from the forces I answer to! From Minerva, who gives me the wisdom to know right from wrong! From Diana, who keeps me focused on the objective at hand and never lose sight of what is in front of me! From Pluto, who reminds me how those he oversees were never worthy of being a true gladiator and to stay on the right path! From Mars, who gives me the strength I need to give me the edge in every battle I have had! And from Jupiter and Juno, who have made me understand that every obstacle, every setback I may endure, is only done to make me stronger and help me overcome whatever lies ahead!
[He turns back to the camera, raising a finger and pointing at it, and his voice rises once more.]
G: YOU, HARRISON FAWCETT, CAN NEVER HOPE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT TRULY MAKES ME STRONGER! YOU CAN NEVER HOPE TO OVERCOME THE MIGHT OF THOSE WHO GIVE ME GUIDANCE THROUGH EVERY COMBAT I ENDURE! AND YOU CAN NEVER CONTROL THOSE WHO CANNOT BE CONTROLLED, AND THOSE WHO I ANSWER TO, NOT ONLY CAN YOU NEVER CONTROL THEM, BUT YOU CAN NEVER CONTROL THOSE WHO FOLLOW THEM! AND I CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THEM BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER USED ME FOR A TWISTED PURPOSE, BUT ONLY THAT I MAY CONTINUE TO GROW IN BODY, MIND AND HEART, FOR WHICH I WILL ONLY RESPOND BY DOING THEM HONOR!
MS: Still, Gladiator, nobody has defeated King ONI since his arrival in AWA. He has seldom been taken off his feet... in fact, even MAMMOTH Maximus had a difficult time doing that! How do you overcome a monster such as ONI?
[Gladiator raises a finger again, his voice grows louder.]
G: THE OBSTACLE THAT LIES AHEAD IS NOT ONE I ASSUME WILL BE AN EASY ONE TO OVERCOME, BUT ONCE AGAIN, THE FOUNDATION UPON WHICH IT RESTS IS ON SHAKY GROUND! MY GLADIATORS WILL FOLLOW ME INTO BATTLE, KNOWING THAT THEIR FOUNDATION IS STRONG, THAT A STRONG FOUNDATION SHALL ALWAYS OVERCOME A WEAK ONE, EVEN IF THE WEAK ONE MUST BE CHIPPED AWAY AT BEFORE IT FINALLY BREAKS! BUT BREAK IT WILL, AND ONCE IT DOES BREAK, THE KING SHALL COME TUMBLING DOWN, FALLING BEFORE THE MIGHT OF A LEVIATHAN! A LEVIATHAN THAT IS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AS THE GLADIATOOOORRRR!
[He lets the last syllable hang for several seconds as he walks off set, holding his arms skyward.]
MS: The Gladiator sounds confident, but will he be able to overcome the King? Gordon and Bucky, let's go back to you!
Did the two above examples sound like different characters to you? If so, then I have accomplished the task of finding the voice of each character. Each character is different in terms of background, personality and beliefs, so finding the proper voice for each character helps convey those things.
Now think about characters that you might create for a book. Would a teenager who struggles to fit in have the same voice as that of a teenager who is popular among classmates? Would a private investigator talk the same way as an elected official? How might a baseball player talk up things compared to a boxer? Or how would somebody working the cashier in a fast food joint talk about things compared to the person who owns the restaurant?
The trick to finding the voice for a character is to understand what makes the character tick. This can come from factors ranging from the background to the life experiences to the personality to the interests of the character. Once you understand those things, you will get a better idea of finding the character's voice.
And when your writing makes it clear how each character communicates, it's easier for the reader to recognize what makes each character unique. It comes closer to what real life is like, in which people not only talk in different accents or dialects, but in tone, volume and choice of words.
Finding a character's voice requires practice. You may have to write a character several times before finding it. Once you know what the voice is like, it becomes an easier task and it makes for stronger writing.