So ambiguous. So nebulous.
Or is it?
After Storymaker's earlier this month I decided to sit down and focus an entire draft on character voice. (Narrative voice is another beast in and of itself for the current manuscript. I'm writing in 3rd person so it's similar, but not quite the same as the character voice.)
This has proved a rather daunting task. It took me days just to prepare for the revision. First, I went through the manuscript and highlighted all the characters' dialogue, all in different colors. I had a color for everything. The MC and her three traveling companions, the antagonist, major secondary characters, and a whole lot of others.
The manuscript was very colorful at this point. (And confusing. I had to create a spreadsheet to track which colors I'd already used and which were available.)
Once the highlighting was done, I went back through the manuscript and started copying and pasting all that dialogue into different documents. One for each character. That also took days (which is part of the days I already spoke of.) As I went through the manuscript for this process, I found myself eliminating a lot of the highlighting. I got rid of all the characters who didn't have a name in the manuscript and all groups of characters who are just background noise that happens to provide a tidbit of information to my characters.
I still ended up with a lot of documents.
One thing the copying and pasting process showed me was how some of the characters (even the MC and her traveling companions) dominate all conversations while others just sort of pipe up to remind us they're around. I mean, one of her love interests (there's a maybe-not-so-subtle love rectangle in the book) has 11 pages of dialogue when all is said and done. The MC is sitting pretty at 50 pages of dialogue when it's all put together.