As we wrap up this week on writer’s voice, there is one last lesson I want to impart upon you.
Like I am some wordsmith wielding a handcrafted steel quill, touching your shoulders as you kneel before me.
Also, please do not kneel before me, or after me, or anywhere near me. It’s very weird and makes shopping for peanut butter and coffee kind of awkward.
For the final lesson on voice we will dive deeper into the meaning and pull out some nuggets that you can gorge yourself on.
Description. Yes, we have covered using descriptive words in the past. However, today, as part of the voice lessons, we will learn how we see the world.
Writers are weird creatures. We notice things that many others don’t. We look at the world in an odd way and then use our skills and talents to relay what we see to others.
This all ties together, and when you can see that, you will be on the next level of your writing endeavors.
So think of today’s prompt as the final boss on your quest to reach your full potential. The next level awaits.
Write a scene where a human character and a canine character are using the wares at a fruit stand to hurl produce at nearby buildings.
Before you start writing I want you to take a minute and read the prompt again.
At first glance it seems rather specific, doesn’t it? We need a human and a dog throwing fruit at buildings. But when you think about it, there is a lot of vagueness in those words.
Is the human male or female? What planet are they on? Does the dog talk, what breed is it? Why are they throwing produce at buildings? What kind of buildings? Are they standing on a street corner in downtown New York or on a farm in west Iowa?
When you stop and think about all the various possibilities, you can see where different writers will have a different view. You can strike a fatal blow to that head boss when you realize this is the key behind the phrase “everything has already been told, but not by you.”
What you see is going to be different from everyone else.
Think About This
Let’s, for a second, assume this prompt was actually happening in real life. You are walking to get your coffee and you turn a corner to see this commotion going on. As you approach, you realize 30 other writers are standing around watching this dog and human hurl coconuts at buildings.
Now further assume that all 31 one of you pull out your laptops and start writing about the ordeal. How many of those 31 stories do you think would be exactly the same? None? What if there were 100 writers? 1000?
The reason that no story will ever be written the same, even when the events being written about are set in stone, is that every writer has a voice.
You use that voice to write the way you see things. What you feel, see, hear and smell. All of these things go into your story with one purpose: engaging your reader.
You may focus most of your writing efforts on the dog. It talks! It is throwing banana’s like an MLB fastball, overhand and everything!
While your writing may appeal to the dog lovers, the writer standing next to you is writing about the broken windows and the mess on the sidewalk. Still another is writing about how the human trained the dog to hurl fruit.
Each story is the same in that it has all the story elements that are present. But each one is different because of voice.
What do You See?
When you read the prompt, you get a visual in your head. This is what you see and what you will write. That vision includes the specifics, but more often than not you will focus on certain details more than others. That focus will then expand to other visuals and ideas as you write.
This, in essence, is where your voice comes from.
When you add in all the other voice lessons from this week, you have a story that is truly yours. While it can be copied or emulated, no one else in the world will ever write it exactly how you have the first time out.
Recognize this unique sight that you have. Learn to harness it. Pay attention to how you write your words, insert your breaks, chop up your sentences.
All of this is combined to give your story its voice. Your voice.
As you practice, you will recognize it easier and faster. And when you need to change it, you will be able to do so.
And as that head boss lay crumpled at your feet, know that you still have much to learn, long roads to travel, but you are smarter now, stronger, more skilled, and ready to take on the next challenge.