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Judge's Challenge: Character Voice


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Alright everyone, welcome to the very first Judge's Challenge! These are writing exercises that I've either found or created that I think will be helpful for anyone who wants to improve their writing. These aren't so much themed around Malifaux, although you absolutely can do that. These are going to be a lot less informal than the Iron Quill- no voting, no winners, just pure writing. If people have ideas for exercises, please let me know, even if you're not participating, I'd love to see more of these than what I can track down.


For the first Judge's Challenge, our topic is Character Voice. One of the big problems I have with early drafts in new works is how similar the characters all sound to each other in dialogue. Which is something that I think is an issue because a distinctive voice really helps readers work out both who is talking, and it gives a feel for the personality of the character. Someone who does not use contractions comes across very formal, while someone who uses tons of them feels much more loose.


So, onto the exercise. You guys need to write a conversation with no less than three participants where each speaker gets at least six lines. However, you are not allowed to use names or blocking (things like 'he said' or other such things). Only dialogue! For the first set of lines each participant gets, you are allowed to label them with letters or numbers. Try using things like slang, pacing, even rhyme to make the three characters distinct. See if you can get people to figure out which line belongs to which speaker!


Just post up your bits of writing in this thread to keep it all in one spot. If you want, feel free to make multiple entries. I'll be posting up my own one later this week to give an example of it, and I'll be trying to give advice and critique for anyone who wants it.

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"Well met good fellows."

"Quit bein' so dramatic."

"Let him have his fun. What's the harm in him speaking in such a flowery way?"

"I thank thee, kind sir."

"Fine, but it'll be on your head when I finally snap and kill 'im."

"You are such an idiot."

"No I ain't."

"He speaks the truth. I feel there may be a village nearby missing their idiot."


"See, this is exactly my point. You can't even take a joke."

"I could if'n it was funny."

"I shall attempt to keep my whit in check for the benefit of your simpleton friend."

"Thank you, it is much appreciated."

"What you gotta use such big words for? You know it confuses me!"

"I feel that a room with but one door would confuse you."

"That's it. I've had enough of 'im. I'm gonna smack 'im right in the face!"

"Just go outside down and calm down. I'll deal with this on my own, as usual."

"Now that we are alone good fellow, how may i be of assistance?"

"I have someone I need you to deal with for me. He owes us money and isn't exactly forthcoming with it. I thought that someone with your particular talents could get it for me."

"Leave the details with my assistant and I shall have your money within the week. Good day."

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“So, gen-teel-men, it’s safe. W-ee just ne-heed to lay low for while”


“We play ‘ide ‘en seek, boss?”


“’Idden where?

“Som-wee-hee-air safe”

“Sah’ you can ‘old ta’ ransom?”

“Why ya’ fightin’ Boss?”

“Just a pree-hee-caution”

“Well I ‘don like it so ya’ gon’ tell where it is or ma’ friend ‘ere gonna’ make you look perty”

“I is boss?”

“Now that would be a mee-hee-stake”

“I fink not”

“Wee-ell it just so happens I pree-heedicted this move and got a gun aimed at your hee-heeed”

“I see”




“I gon’ don’ ‘da same fing!”


“Course’ naw’ ‘dey gonna’ where each other is”


“Sah ‘dey outda' picture”


“Bruna, grab ‘da man”

“Bruno, thee-heenk about thee-ees. He-ee tree-eat you bad”


“Na! Na Questions! Grab 'im!”

“Ree-heemember what wee-hee talked about”



“Stop Fightin’!”

“Put ma down ya’ oaf!”

“What are you do-ee-hing”



“Stop sleep’n boss. Na’ not time for sleep’n”




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  • 2 weeks later...
“Now, we’ll need to ask you a few questions.”
“Tell one lie and we’ll turn off your birthdays.”
“Now, Marshall Tate, don’t be like that. I’m sure our new friend isn’t going to be lying. Are you, doctor?”
“Sirs, I can assure you, there’s been a terrible mistake… I am completely innocent.”
“See, he’s started already! Time to practice with my pinky shears.”
“Steady now. Give the man a chance to explain himself.”
“Alright, but I’ve got my eye on you, pal.”
“Very well, but there’s little else to explain. I have heard these rumors that I have performed a spree of horse thefts, but I maintain that they are mere slander. I spend each evening in my laboratory, as my records will clearly indicate.”
“And you can show these records?”
“I would rather not, but if it will end this rigamarole, then by all means, have at.”
“Yes, thank you. Let’s see them.”
“We’re wasting our time. We should just lock this guy up.”
“Steady now. These notes look legitimate.”
“I say he just lied in his diary too, to back up his other lies.”
“Hmm. I’m afraid my partner is not yet convinced. Do you have any witnesses who can back up your story?”
“Oh, this is preposterous! Yes, my laboratory assistant can confirm my story. Please, Wolfram, tell these fellows where I was last night.”
“Here is the information you request. He was in the laboratory from before dusk until midnight precisely, then sleeping in his dormitory.”
“Your robot’s a liar too! That’s enough, I’m gonna take my can-opener and—”
“Steady now! Do not threaten our friend’s clockwork assistant.”
“Who’s threatening the clockwork? I was going to peel open the liar’s thumbs.”
“Steady now! Steady! Sir, if you’ll perhaps explain why you did this, I may be able to convince the judge to give a lighter sentence…”
“I am unmoved by your threats, gentleman. Whether or not you are convinced, I  will participate in my slander now longer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I — what’s this? More gadflies?”
"Sir! My partner and I were just concluding our interview with --"
“Beg pardon, gents, but we’ve found the culprit! We’ve got him in custody in — aw, what the devil?”
“What? So, who was the culprit?”
“This fella right here, but we just arrested him across town.”
“Intriguing. It would appear that I am the victim of an imitator, rather than a slanderer. Nonetheless, in either case I am exonerated.”
“The hell you are. We’ll throw you both in jail and you can solve it from there.”
“I’m afraid my partner is correct.”
“Nonsense. This meeting is at an end. Assistant, please escort these fellows out.”
"Acknowledged. Please come with me."
“We ain’t leaving without you.”
“Assistant, use force as needed.”
“Urban defense mode engaged. Please come with me, I insist.”
"Blast it! I can't stand doppelganger cases. Fire at will, men!"
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