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Monday, November 20, 2006

Developing your writer’s voice #5

Not all these exercises will work for every writer, but some might enable you to find and/or further develop your voice.

(Most of these exercises are taken from Finding Your Writer's Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall)

Take a lesson from children's storytelling.

When children tell stories, they improvise with things connected to their emotions, urgent and important to them at the moment. The duckie in their lap, the blue carpet, the stinky smell from the diaper bag, the lint under the table. It doesn't have to make sense, it doesn't have to be polished.

What makes their stories compelling is that it's raw and free. Our writers' voices come out when we can emulate their storytelling mindset.

This is related to what we say in public and private. There are certain things we will only say to our families, or sometimes just to ourselves. I'm not talking about foul language or unpleasant bodily functions. Opinions, one-line zingers, rage, frustration, joy, pride--good things, bad things. All uncensored.

Voice can come out when we start to blur the lines between the two, the way a child does. Children don't know what's acceptable to say in public versus private. They say what comes into their heads, guided by emotions.

Adults tend to edit ourselves, even when we don't think we are. But what if you didn't? What if you wrote everything and anything--the good, the bad? What if it was just a matter of getting it all down, no matter what it looked like, no matter that it didn't make sense, no matter that you'd never let another living soul see what you wrote?

Voice is that raw writing. Don't stress because the editing will come later. Write on any topic, going off on any tangent, making whatever associations you feel like. Just get it down. You'd be surprised at what comes out of you, and it might even start you off on new, uncharted ground.

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