Hey folks, Leo here, with some more sound advice for this Audio Drama Sunday!
This time it’s about characterisation then a little focus for creating those voices in the booth.
First things first: remember that inspiration can come from anywhere, not just a character’s backstory or the universe’s preconceptions.
Ask yourself whether anything else inspired the way you imagine that character’s demeanour – a friend? a family member? the mannerisms you once heard a celebrity used during an interview? Then, take a note on how that builds the character in the mind of others in your team. There will be different interpretations between different people, and that perspective can help build the voice for your characters.
Beg, borrow and steal!
When you need to get into character, consider mannerisms and body language for the booth. If you’ve discussed influences on the character with the rest of the team, such as film characters or specific people, study recordings of them! Even if you’re not aiming to mimic or create an impression, there may be good hooks or potential trigger lines to harness. (Trigger lines are catch phrases that help you get into the zone for a specific character. I’ll be covering those in more detail another time!)
Musicality can help reveal speech patterns – listen to the rhythms dialects adopt, consider listening to songs in those accents or languages and mimic. You’re not looking for fluency here; instead, you want to get accustomed to individual sounds and break them down so you can reapply them. Consider the difference between when someone speaks versus when they sing; do they find themselves going into a higher register, drawling or emphasising certain vowels compared to their speech?
If you really want to nail down an accent, perhaps even with regional accuracy, I have found one particular resource invaluable – the International Dialects of English Archive: https://www.dialectsarchive.com/
IDEA has a world map of global English speakers reading set pieces and then completing an interview about the reader’s background. There are tons of recordings and most have accompanying transcripts – I would suggest picking a selection of recordings for your target accents and then mimic or practice away!
This is part of an ongoing series of articles I’m writing about our experiences of writing and performing audio dramas for the EraScapes division of Shades of Vengeance. If you’d like to get involved with our projects in some capacity, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!