One book that really influenced my as a child was Gail Carson Levine’s On Writing. It was a book about writing for children and it was my favorite writing book of all time as a child, and I still have it. In fact, I think I want to re-read it at some point, for old time’s sake, even though nothing in there will help me now, since I have pretty much internalized the entire book.
The whole book was chock full of important information that even adult writers could use a refresher on. She pretty much went through the entire process. Brainstorming. Drafting. Characters, setting, publishing. Everything was in that tiny book. And it was in big font and it was still a really thin book, perfect for young readers.
One topic that I want to talk about today is that Gail Carson Levine said that readers like when they can figure stuff out on their own. I guess I should say we since we are all readers. We like figuring things out for ourselves, not being spoon fed.
Gail Carson Levine used this idea to sell the tip that every character needs a unique speaking voice to call their own. This topic, of unique speaking voices, and voice in general, needs several blog posts all to itself, because I have no idea how to do that. Writing in different voices is impossible. I should probably start practicing that as soon as possible.
Some people’s tweets are really good subjects for studying to learn voice. Maybe it’s because this girl’s voice is really unique as well, but when I read her tweets, I imagine them in her voice, and it just fits together. I don’t do that for all tweets I read. Some tweets, though the person may have a unique voice that I know well, their tweets and boring and dull and not specific to them. Which is insane to think about. How can someone say, “so my car disappeared today” with a picture of their car underneath several inches of snow, and that is so unique to them? It doesn’t make sense, yet, I remembered that tweet so well. I remember her tweets because of her unique voice.
And who knows? Maybe she’s doing it in purpose. She is an excellent writer. Her poetry is amazing. She is really, really poetic. Maybe her voice is put on, and she’s just that good. Even if it’s her “real voice,” how she naturally came to talk, it’s still an example of how different people talk differently, and how different characters HAVE to sound different.
Like I said, this is really something I have to work on. All my characters sound the same. This goes back to my post that talked a little bit about diversity, and a lot about other random stuff. All those characters that looked alike and were basically the same person? They all sounded the same, too. Which was just a total nightmare. That story was a total nightmare. But I learned from it, which is the important part.
So, in conclusion, I really have to practice voice a lot. I have to practice dialogue a lot. I remember when my creative writing teacher did his lesson on voice. It was never something I had even though about. I thought dialogue was easy. After that lesson, I lost all confidence in myself and wanted to give up writing. I’m kind of a theatrical person, so I guess I have almost given up writing a lot, but this one was a big deal, too. I almost wanted to switch completely to poetry, and ditch prose completely, just to avoid dialogue. Which is insane. If you have read any of my poems, you know I cannot write poetry. If you have not read any of my poems, good. Please never read them.
I’m just kidding, I actually love the poems that I have written. They are like my favorite babies, like the favorite children, or something.
If I discover any tips about dialogue or character voice, I will let you know. For now, though, I am struggling.