Part of the richness of a story can be provided by the range of voices it contains. One challenge for the writer, therefore, is to create voices which have a recognisable pattern and identity. Voice, in this sense, is an outward expression of a character’s attitude and personality. To an extent, it is deliberately crafted and edited by that character to convey a particular image to the world (adapted to specific contexts and company) and, to an extent, it is unconscious and unedited, unwittingly revealing aspects of themselves that they may be less happy for the world to see. The voice of Casanova, for example, is typically characterised by educated diction, irony, double entendre, vanity and a self-assurance bordering on arrogance. The voice of Stefano, by stark contrast, is far more crude, exemplified by a more limited vocabulary, with scatological and sexual references, and is overtly misogynistic. Interestingly, in both cases, they have created a voice that covers-up personal insecurities: Casanova’s with regards to his status as a lowly-born outsider, always seeking to impress others and acquire validation from his high-bred, social superiors; Stefano’s with regards to his own inadequacies and ignorance with regards to women. One of the functions of the monologues that open each chapter was to help to strengthen the voices of the characters in the mind of the reader so that the reader would then carry with them that voice and, hopefully, a stronger sense of who the character was, into the unfolding narrative itself.
Of course, when creating a voice the writer also has to take setting into consideration. In the case of ‘Casanova in Paris’ the most important aspect of the setting is period. This can be tricky. You want a level of formality and examples of vocabulary that the reader can associate with the eighteenth century or, at least, that they can recognise as not being modern, but it shouldn’t seem artificial and contrived. Likewise, you need to avoid anachronisms no matter how perfectly a particular word or phrase might seem to express what you want a character to express. We decided to remove the word ‘paranoid’, for example, which Casanova used to describe Louis XV, and replace it with ‘deluded’ plus an additional line of dialogue (‘He sees betrayal and treachery everywhere’).
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 and 2 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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