Monday, August 13, 2012

What Was Never Lost Need Not Be Found

A member of my writers' group enjoys studying VOICE.  I've been told by agents and editors that I have a strong one.  It probably shouldn't have surprised me - I come from a large, loud Irish family; if you want to be heard around our dinner table, you have to earn it. - but it did. Voice wasn't something I was consciously working on.  I felt relief more than anything else to hear this news, checked the box, and continued working on any number of other skills that I hadn't been honing since infancy.

But, my writers' group friend and a few of you have asked me to talk about it.  Voice.  In my efforts to prepare for this, I, of course, began at google.  (Where else?)  If you search "find your voice" there are innumerable experts who will tell you where this elusive part of you is hiding and how to summon it.  Imagine that when we were kids we thought it was in our throats!  Silly us.  Honestly, everything I read was insightful and well done.  I don't think that there is anything for me to add.  But...

What I'd like to suggest is, if all the guidance out there isn't working for you, maybe hit pause for just a little bit and try something different.

Don't try to sound like "yourself."  Don't try to sound like the authors you read (and feel lacking when you don't.)  Writing is all about faith and I don't want you to lose yours.  God knows, I fight to keep mine every day.  Instead, I say:  Sound like your characters.

Be clear whose head you are in.  Think and feel like that character.  KNOW that character before you set your fingers on the keys.  Make your characters identifiable from one another in every possible way.  They talk differently, the view things differently, they like and dislike different characters and things.  If you throw everything you've got into sounding like your characters, you won't have the energy anymore to undermine yourself.

"I am a part of all that I have met."
~Alfred Tennyson

And everything we have met is a part of us.  Everything we've seen, heard, touched, lived through, been exposed to vicariously, read, etc.  There is so much within us that we can use to create amazing characters.  Try their voices on for size.  Sounding like Nona, a deaf Italian girl living in an orphanage in upstate New York, or Geronimo, an ex-con on the run near the Texas-Mexico border, is way more fun than trying to sound like M.M. Finck.  Believe me, I'm there, in between the lines.  :)

Have faith that you sound like you.  No one else can do it better.

Until next time...  I hope you are well!  Thanks for coming by!

~M. M. Finck