Posted by Lynne
When I was a little girl, my brother and sisters used to beg me to leave the station wagon, go up to the window and order our ice cream. They didn't really need to plead a case, because I liked taking charge and making my request known, though it was a bit tricky juggling six cones all the way back to the car.
For all the years I spent in school, my teachers never once wrote in my report card, should participate more in class. In fact no one has ever told me to find my voice. I've always had something to say.
If you're like me, writing provides the perfect vehicle to say a lot about many things. After all it isn't always socially appropriate to comment on everything you think and feel. Or perhaps you live quietly, choosing carefully when to speak, but in your writing you can express your deepest thoughts and opinions. Whichever type of person/writer you are--we all need voice.
The best writing has a strong voice. Characters who express themselves in unique and interesting ways. When they speak, whether you like them personally or not, you listen. What would Catcher in the Rye be without Holden's remarks about behavior he finds, "crumby?" Or how about Seth in Toni Morrison's gem, Beloved? I never once needed attributions for Seth's dialogue, I always knew when she was speaking.
Voice. The unique words, body language and tonal qualities our characters possess, set our writing apart from everything else. If you fear what some say about there being no new stories to tell, there's hope in finding voice. No matter what story you're compelled to tell, the character's voice--their view of the world and what's happening to them--changes everything.
Think about any story you've ever been told. Let's take the phone call from the agent story. You know there's a call. You know the news is good. What keeps you listening, sitting on the edge of your seat is the voice of the storyteller. Did she scream or swear? Or jump up and down like a game show contestant or make a grateful sign of the cross. Or did she retain a nonchalant demeanor, hang up the phone and decide to call the agent back to be certain she hadn't misunderstood the offer?
Author, Holly Lisle says, Voice is style, plus theme, plus personal observations, plus passion, plus belief, plus desire. Voice is bleeding onto the page, and it can be a powerful, frightening, naked experience.
You can't have voice if you don't know what you or your characters want to say. Each character in your novel allows you a venue for social commentary. Inhabit them. Ask each one what he or she wants or needs to say, next listen to the ways they choose to speak to you.
Then write it down.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Posted by Lynne