Voice (and I don’t mean speech) can make or break who your character is as a person. If you use the wrong word your character just went from strong independent woman to withering damsel in distress. Nothing will annoy your reader more than a change in personality. Maybe there is a better word then voice, but that is how I look at this. The voice behind the words that gives your character the framework of who they are and who they will become.
So, I talked about authors having schizophrenia with too many POV’s, but what about a character that has multiple personality disorder and you weren’t trying. Yes, some characters really will have some issues: serial killers, mad scientists, an institutionalized character or maybe a mom-I feel like I have issues most days. But, for the common character that is supposed to be relatable, you probably aren’t trying to give him or her some kind of major personality disorder.
I have a picture in my head of who my character is and I hope she stays that way throughout the book. I have a mental checklist – although I should most likely have a written one. Six chapters into my writing she is a spunky blond, with a minor attitude, determined to make it on her own and stuck with her choice. Chapter seven would be a very odd place for me to decide to change her into a sap who wants nothing then to marry Mr. Hot and Steamy even though she hasn’t worked past whatever it is that has been driving her through the first portion of the story.
Now granted my stories are character driven, maybe someone who’s story which is plot driven could pull this off. Maybe it is less of an issue but I still think the rules are the same. You cannot change your characters mid story without a major event and even then they will still react a specific way to said life change.
So although I think that there are some days that the voices in my head are telling me to do something out of character, this isn’t a trait you want your character to have unless they fit into the fore mentioned list. Each character has a voice and that voice will show who your characters is. The voice in which your character is written will drive his or her actions.
How do you keep your characters straight while writing? Have you read books where the character changes mid book and it leaves you wondering if the person had a lobotomy?