BBC Academy podcast: ‘Inner Voices: How writers create characters’

Jennifer Hodgson writes:

High res typewriterThe Writers’ Inner Voices study focuses specifically on writing and storytelling for the page, but similar questions might also be asked about other forms of writing, such as writing for television or radio.  How do scriptwriters for TV and radio hear the voices of their characters? Do the characters arrive in the scriptwriter’s mind fully formed, so that the writer merely serves a conduit for voices that appear to have ‘lives of their own’? Or do they have to work at hearing the voices of the characters they create?  And how are the experiences of TV and radio script writers different from those of novelists?

In a recent BBC Academy podcast, one of the lead researchers on the Writers’ Inner Voices project, Dr Jennifer Hodgson, joins Sarah Phelps and Al Smith in order to discuss precisely these issues.  They consider ‘what it is like to hear characters, whether there is a difference between creating characters for television, radio and written fiction and the practicalities of script writing.’

You can download and listen to the podcast here.

Sarah Phelps has written scripts for EastEnders, TV adaptations of Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, and also wrote the World War I drama The Crimson Field and adapted JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy for BBC One.

Al Smith is a television and radio scriptwriter.  He has written for East Enders and Holby City and also co-created the teen drama The Cut for BBC Two.  He also wrote Life in the Freezer and The Postman of Good Hope for BBC Radio 4.

Dr Jennifer Hodgson is one of the lead researchers on Hearing the Voice’s Writers’ Inner Voices project.  She holds a PhD in English Studies from Durham University.

The podcast is presented by BBC Academy producer Helen Hutchinson.

Further links:

Inner Voices: How writers create characters‘.  BBC Writers Room Blog, 28 November 2014.

The Guardian’s Inner Voices series.

And we’re off: Writers’ Inner Voices at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Jennifer Hodgson writes:
Hello from a very sunny Edinburgh, where we’ve decamped to the Edinburgh International Book Festival to begin work on the second part of our Writers’ Inner Voices study, part of the Conversations With Ourselves strand of events. For the next two-and-a-bit weeks, we’ll be interviewing some of the writers on this year’s bill and reporting from the festival on the findings of our research into inner voice and literary creativity.
The Conversations With Ourselves series of events got off to a fabulous start today with “The Voices in Our Head”, a panel exploring the creation of characters in fiction through the prism of inner voice, with writers Nathan Filer, Edward Carey and Matthew Quick, chaired by our very own Charles Fernyhough. You can view a précis of today’s discussions here.

P.S. There’s no warmer welcome than a shout-out on the Guardian’s books blog. Follow the link to read the Guardian’s profile of the project.

Introduction to Writers’ Inner Voices

The idea that writers “hear” the voices of their characters is a common one. Some writers even go as far as to claim that the characters that people their narratives seem to somehow write themselves: that they, the writer, are a mere conduit for voices that appear to have lives all of their own.

The aim of the Writers’ Inner Voices project is to try to understand writers’ and storytellers’ inner speech and the role that the inner voice or voices play in the process of literary creation.

Many writers – from William Blake, to Charles Dickens, to Joseph Conrad, to Philip K. Dick – have written or talked about experiencing auditory verbal hallucinations, or hearing voices that others cannot hear. The Writers’ Inner Voices project also aims to explore what relationship there might be, if any, between writers’ experiences and the experience of hearing voices.

During the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival, as part of the Conversations with Ourselves strand of events, we interviewed authors and storytellers about their creative process and finding out more about the ways that writers and storytellers imagine, hear, listen to and converse with the voices of their characters. You can read more about the project on the blog, where we documented our interviews with authors and storytellers during the festival.

This project is being conducted by members of the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Book Festival.