A Case Study in Voice
Our dashing, masked hero karate-chops in the door and strikes a pose. “Aha! Launchpad, we’ve got them now. You head to the roof to cover their retreat!”
The ever-faithful sidekick snaps a salute and replies: “Affirmative, Commander. I shall mount to said vantage place and accordingly ascertain…uh…duh…”
Okay, no. He says…oh, yes! He says this: “Roger that, boss! No problemo! I got this!”
Ah…*sigh of relief* I was worried for a moment. Anyway, as Launchpad dutifully races off to get clobbered, our staunch hero turns to the darkness. “It’s curtains for ya, dudes,” he calls to the lurking gangsters. “I’m gonna pound you lika sack of potatoes.”
Ow. Okay, you’re right, he doesn’t. Hm…
“Justice has rung your bell, miscreants,” he calls. “Your bankruptcy protections have expired! You’ve been extradited to the Land of Lawfulness! And I am the immigration officer!”
*giggle* Oops. Don’t laugh at Darkwing Duck (to his face). That did sound better, though.
Gosalyn rolls her eyes from the doorway. “Like, totally lameo, Dad. Can’t even dig.”
No, wait. “What doest even sayeth, Father Mine?” Um… “Seriously? Do you hafta shout threats every time we walk through a door?”
I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead. Ish.
The point of this is not what my brother watched for the two months following Christmas. It’s that Launchpad can say “peeper” without us batting…an eye. But if he lets slip a “discomfiture” (or, Heaven forbid, fling off an Aristotle quote), we’ll start scolding our TVs – or thinking it’s a plot element. After all, maybe his brain got switched with someone else’s.
A character’s personality seeps through into his word choice, his diction, everything. Of course, there are other ways to tell characters apart, too. Names that start with different letters are always nice, and you must admit that purple cape-and-hat set is pretty distinctive. Don’t forget the whole unable-to-distinguish-your-boss-from-Eggmen stupidity, or the completely-dropping-your-guard-at-the-sight-of-a-camera-or-fan hubris. Those help to define who we’re talking about, too.
Nevertheless, if you can fine-tune your character’s voice so that we know exactly who they are when they open their mouth in a dark room, you’ve captured something special.
Bushroot is different from Negaduck. Their fighting styles, goals, and ways of expressing themselves are all distinct. Negaduck would never fall for a shapely potato. Bushroot would sound forced if he burst into an Ultron-esque rant against the universe, detailing his desire to conquer it.
They are separate people, with separate pasts and different motives for shooting Darkwing full of harpoons. It’s harder than it looks. Hm. Maybe Disney did know what they were doing, at least some of the time.
Excuse me…I have a best friend/sidekick who sounds suspiciously like the main character.
The Darkwing Duck franchise is property of The Walt Disney Company.