I Hear You, Johanna…

(Don’t mind me and my geeky Broadway beginning. I can’t help myself.)

Maybe it’s how long I watched anime and the like, maybe it’s my own connection to theatre and voice acting…maybe it’s just me. But I run into a problem with I’m writing, particularly when I start creating new characters.

I start hearing voices.

Haha, no, not like that. But for some of me characters, I can start to hear with they might sound like, as if in a movie or play. Now, I will say that not all my characters are terribly precise. For example, though I have a good handle on who might look a good deal like Alistair, I can’t specifically think of a voice actor who could absolutely be the voice for him. But I know he’s in the tenor range, casual speech, generic Northeastern accent. Similarly, I know Alan–from NOBLESSE OBLIGE–has a very precise, clipped, and formal tone, but is also in the tenor range and closer to an English accent hinted at the edges. These two sound nothing alike, despite some similarities. In the same vein, Vic (from REVOLUTION) has a deep bass lightly accented with Italian, and Caine (from SUNRISE among other projects) is a lower gravelly bass, with more of a Midwest flat accent.

Every once in a while, however, I come upon a character who knows exactly what they sound like, and they can point to the actor who can do it. When I was writing the aforementioned DARKEN THE SUNRISE, my poor ill-begotten audio drama, I automatically knew that my colleague (then working under the pseudonym TheGoldCrow) needed to voice my main antagonist, X. I’d heard Crow in a different production where he voice a similar character, so I knew he could do what I wanted. (Through that same project, my friend Rich Kingston solidified himself as Caine’s voice–the same Caine mentioned above–and now I can’t hear anyone else for the role.)

Now that I’m working on my new game project, I have a whole new series of characters to hear–and two of them have already asserted themselves. Go figure.

I’m not surprised. The game is working with classic character archetypes, and these actors have played characters of these same types before. Still, it’s surprising to hear the voices come through so clearly sometimes.

First is my first-born son, heir to the family, reserved and cool intellectual–Torin. You know the type; Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club is a perfect example. And with no difficulty at all, I can hear Bradley Gareth voicing him. Gareth voices a similar character in the otome game series SEDUCE ME. I love the game (I’ve probably mentioned it before) and James is likely my favorite character, so again, I’m not surprised that Torin’s taken on his voice in my hear. It’s still funny, since there are enough dramatic differences between the two characters that Torin will say things James never would…but I can still hear it, as strange as it can sound.

On the other hand, we have my Casanova, narcissist flamboyant flirt Ravi. (I’m enjoying writing Ravi more than I expected to. He’s just so much fun~) Think Tamaki from Ouran, or Zen from Mystic Messenger. In SEDUCE ME, this character type is Erik, voiced by Christopher Escalante. (Escalante is also the composer for the series, I’ve found. Talk about multitalented.) And almost from word one, Ravi sounded like Escalante. The more I write, the more sure the sound becomes. So apparently I need to start saving my pennies now, so that when the project is finished, I can afford to beg him to audition. (I did actually off-handedly mention on Twitter that I had a character who sounded like him, and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing–to which Escalante responded “as long as it’s cool!” I certainly think Ravi’s cool, and him too, so a big thanks for making my day with that.)

I’m wondering: how many of you can dream-cast your characters? Do you know exactly how they sound? Would you ever have occasion to voice them? Or is it all just visual, and while you can absolutely see an actor playing them, you’re not sold on their voice? Let me know, luminaries. Luckily for me, I still have more than enough game script to write, and plenty of time to find more voices and save more pennies…


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