Monday, January 31, 2011
Mentor Monday: Voice, Part I
This is a broad subject, so I will return to it in future posts.
We tend to become writers because of a fascination with language, so these observations are probably not earth-shaking to you. What can you do with them?
Next, practice. Begin with yourself. Pick something exciting that has happened to you, or that you’ve done. Write a scene in which you describe that event to your best friend. Write it again as if you’re telling your aged mother about it. Write it again, as if you are reporting the event to the newspaper – or the police. Notice the changes in your word choices, the details you highlight or downplay, the way you describe your emotions and reactions.
Try this exercise again, using a fictional speaker – a child or a teenager. Give your character an exciting experience to relate – to friends and to foes, to parents and to authorities. Now give that fictional speaker something sad to talk about, again to different listeners.
Now look at your current work-in-progress. In fact, don’t look at it, read it out loud. Do your child or teen characters sound authentic? Do they sound like the kids you were eavesdropping on at the mall or the library? People don’t always speak in complete sentences, or with perfect grammar.
Can you tell your characters apart in dialogue by their speech patterns? If not, can you find a way for their speech patterns to reveal something about them, either who they are or how they’re feeling?