Writers’ Inner Voices

Many writers report vivid experiences of ‘hearing’ the voices of the characters they create and having characters who talk back to them, rebel, and ‘do their own thing’. It’s an experience described by a wide range of authors from Enid Blyton, Alice Walker, Quentin Tarantino and Charles Dickens through to Samuel Beckett, Henry James, Hilary Mantel and many more.

Writers’ Inner Voices is a collaborative research project between the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Durham University’s Hearing the Voice which set out to examine the ways in which writers and storytellers experience their characters. This website provides details of what we discovered, explanations for what might be going on, and creative writing exercises based on the research.

Creative Voices

The content of our creative writing workshops, including exercises.


Academic publications from our research into writers’ and readers’ inner voices


News articles, blogs, radio broadcasts, podcasts and other multimedia

Latest news

A Brief and Incomplete History of Writers’ Inner Voices, Part 4: The Twentieth Century

In the fourth and final post of our series on the history of writers’ inner voices, John Foxwell writes: Perhaps the best way of characterising the Twentieth Century is to say that it’s busy. There are all sorts of movements, counter-movements, divisions, groupings, etc. which have been used to try to make sense of the…

 “I hear them in my mind. They have distinct voice patterns and tones… I can always tell who is ‘talking’”