@laura: It is a little difficult. Seems like this place is getting busy already, which is awesome, but I feel like I might be missing people who are saying things to me :s
@heidi: Yeah, I think it’s a bit of an underrepresented genre in YA, for sure. I don’t know if I’d call mine “hard sci-fi”; I guess that depends on your definition of the term. There’s definitely lots of technology and science and all that good stuff, and of course aliens are obviously pretty far into the sci-fi territory, but I like to keep it all accessible. Full-disclosure: books like Dune put me to sleep =) Yes yes, I know…blasphemy coming from a sci-fi writer…
@jenn: Hmmm… Well, whenever I come up with characters I tend to base their speech patterns on people (or a combination of people) that I know in real life, so that helps. I’m constantly asking myself: would such and such actually say that? Would they use that word? And if they wouldn’t, then the characters based on them don’t, either. Eventually the voice just sort of grows out of this, until it becomes second nature.
Also, one thing that I try to keep in mind for this particular wip: Men and women typically have different speech patterns as defined by their genders, too; i.e.–men tend to speak in short, more direct sentences, talk in concrete terms rather than abstract, ask fewer questions, that sort of thing…but that’s getting into generalities. Every character is unique, of course;but thinking about gender differences still might be a decent starting point, assuming we’re just talking about distinguishing a male from a female voice.