I was reading a book recently in which the two main characters - one male and one female - sounded so much like one another that it was difficult to tell them apart. This was compounded by the fact that the scenes switched back and forth between the characters, and each told their story in first person.
Every character in a book should have their own distinct voice. But how do you find it?
I often find that I must write about people with characteristics very different from me; yet, I have to get into their heads deeply enough to be able to write convincingly. One way I train my mind to think like another is by researching personality traits.
One of my favorite reference books is Linda Goodman's Love Signs. It doesn't matter if you believe in astrology. Just reading about women under each of the twelve zodiac signs provides a wealth of information. A Virgo woman will respond very differently to a set of circumstances, for example, than a Taurus woman. They maintain their homes quite differently. They speak differently, move differently, and they have very different strengths and weaknesses.
Add to that mix the twelve zodiac signs of males, and you have a treasure trove of possibilities.
An Aries man and a Virgo woman develop one type of relationship, while a Scorpio man and an Aquarias woman develop a very different one. Depending upon the plot, you can choose two people who are similar or compatible... or who become arch enemies in a heartbeat.
If you are a writer, what tools do you use to ensure each character is distinctly different?
If you are a reader, are there books you remember vividly because the characters left an imprint on your mind or your heart?