Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Writing to Find A Voice

The Professor, a Great Horned Owl
Before I graduated from high school I recognized that my Bad Attitude about school was all but guaranteed to make college an even bigger problem.  So, I took a year off and joined the work-a-day world of the employed.

During that time, the majority of my friends were at universities across the country.  And since work had its slow periods, I spent that year writing to them.  One hand-written letter per day, five days a week.

What did I write about?  For most of the letters, I don't have a clue.  I do remember, however, that writing every day to friends helped me develop a writing voice.  I didn't even realize that's what I was doing until I saw one of my letter-recipient friends over Thanksgiving and they told me that one of the reasons they liked my letters so much is they felt they could actually hear me talking when they read my writing.

That has struck me as one of the most useful things about daily writing.  It can help you to produce a way of putting words down onto paper, a way of communicating that is yours and yours alone.

Letters to friends still come out that way.  Some of my fiction does as well.  What I've learned, though, is that my fiction requires a different voice -- something that didn't come together for me until I understood that separate voice required me to think of it as a separate person.  (Note, that's a separate person, not personality.)

The separate person who takes over parts of The Book has a distinct voice.  In my head I also have a rough idea of what I think he looks like.  He's like an extra, unseen character whose presence is making a noticeable and fun difference to the story.

What about your writing?  Do you feel you have a recognizable voice?  Do others recognize it as well?

-- Tom