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Inventing Characters

A little insight into how I create characters for Music Audio Stories.

Music Audio Stories character Ladybird Louise - Illustration by Jenika Ioffreda image

Part of the process in making an outline for a Music Audio Story is deciding on the key elements in the story and who the characters are going to be.

All of my characters are based on insects and animals and their adventures. Once I have decided on which insects or animals I want to use, I begin crafting a detailed character study.

I try not to use names in the same story which sound too similar, as this can confuse younger children. I don't have to worry about how old my characters are as the frequency of their voice will indicate this.

As I am writing the script and their lines, I usually have an idea of how I think they may look. I see them as the insect or animal which they are but in cartoon form. At times, I imagine them with a specific or memorable item of clothing on, such as a backward baseball cap or something.

I think about what their relationships are with the other characters in the story. Are they great friends or rivals? I think about how they may think! I try to get to know my character’s strengths and weaknesses, attitudes, personality, and special talents. I make a list of each character and their characteristics and by the time I write the story, I know exactly who they are and how to write them.

Some of my characters have ended up with a favourite phrase or catchphrases they like to use such as Twee the pirate crow in my audiobook Johnny No Cash. He loves to scream "Captain!" no matter how many times he gets told off for doing so! I also think about any habits they may have, eg. Jimi the cool cat flicking his unusually large ears in the story Jimi & his friend Joe.

Music Audio Stories script by tape machine at the studio

Lastly, I try to hear the character’s voice. Some of the voice-overs I do myself but I am fortunate enough to have special guests do voice-overs for me every now and then. They include talented actors from TV, film, theatre, and musicians. Characters really come to life when the actors voice them.

Sometimes I have an idea of what the characters should sound like and I'll choose a voice that I think will work best. Now in the past, this hasn't always ended up how I may have originally heard it! There have been quite a few occasions where on the day of recording, the actor has created another voice that fits brilliantly with the character and ended up recording it their way instead! Production tricks are sometimes used such as Pitch Bend to make a voice sound higher or lower.

Pitch Bend was used on my voice to create the small high pitched sounding voice of Ronnie the worm in The Big Apple. Sound effects were added to help create Bowda, the alien's voice in Robert & Johnson's Space Adventure, and a few other character's voices have had a few tweaks here and there!

Another aspect that must be considered for my audiobooks is the accent of the character! I try to mix it up as much as possible and not be too obvious with my choices. Have a listen and see how many different accents you can count in my stories! 🤓

People have asked me who my favourite character is and to be honest, it's impossible to answer! It's like asking a parent who their favourite child is! Too difficult to answer... I am aware that certain characters seem to be more popular than others but I think I'll just let you listen and decide for yourselves which characters are your favourites!

???? Anna Christina

Further Reading

The People Behind The Voices | Magic in the Music | Narrating Stories

Posted on: in: The Making Of
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