I like to think that I'm a very voice-driven writer. And whether that translates well on the page (screen?) or not, my main goal is to give the character a specific voice. I think of my characters a certain way, and I try to make sure that their tone comes across that way.
For example, in Zombie Nom Nom my main character's name is Lacey. However, she's anything but sweet, and I tried to make her opposite her name. She used to be sweet. But after TEH ZOMBAYS she hardened. She's sarcastic and a little rough around the edges. She's protective, and in my mind, she's a bit of a badass. And I try to make all that come through the page. Hopefully when someone reads from Nom, they get the feel that Lacey is this chick who would do anything for ya, but she'd sure as heck tell you how much she hates doing so.
In Juniper, while I'm still working on her definite voice, I try to get her to come across as a little indifferent. She's blunt and honest, and she isn't going to be easily persuaded by all these people that surround her. She doesn't care. She's confidant, and she doesn't give a crap about what you have to say to her.
(Both of these, by the way, are being put aside for New Project, because I'm still infatuated with New Project. A lot.)
New Project's character Coye is kind of straight-forward, with just a hint of humor. She doesn't goof around all that much; she's in a place where she's constantly stressed. So I make her sound that way: Confused and irritated.
While I obviously don't have things perfected, I hope that the girls' voices are loud and clear. And when they are, everything else is easier to come by as well. If your characters have a voice, then they have a good identity. And with good identity comes good character! Or maybe the other way around? Or are they the same thing? (Oh dear.) Either way, they're enterlocked together. Without one, the other can exist, but it's harder. Not only does the voice create a character, it's also used for how the story is told as a whole.
I think that the more you write, the easier it is to make a clear voice. And to distinct it. With practice, every author has a specific way they write. Heck, even my English teacher tells me how much of a voice I have in my writing, and that's just when writing essays. So when you take your writer-voice, and you twist it to mold something specific, you have quite a dandy character to work with.
But maybe that's just me, and my rambles. I've always found voice important, since I read mostly for the character. Plot-driven novels are always fun too, but I'm much more involved in the story, and willing to keep reading, if I like hearing from the character.
What think you? Do you strive for the perfect voice, or something else? How do you clamp down on the perfect voice? Also, tell me, what is life?