What a talented lot my writing group are and they rose to the challenge last night with the opening chapter of a new Harry Potter with his son at Hogwarts, what happened after the final page of Fahrenheit 451, a new Dickens courtroom drama with some wonderfully Dickensian character names, a Game of Thrones new episode etc. I did also write a new scene from Time Traveler’s Wife although I didn’t have time to read it. It’s a great exercise in looking at how other writers write and then thinking about how to use characters you know and some you don’t. Of course, this is where fan fiction was born, but as a writing exercise looking at how other writers do it can have its benefits.
We also heard writers read other work and interestingly I read the opening of the first thing I had published Jigsaw and then the opening of the latest hot off the press story I wrote for the Costa. For me, as I tried to demonstrate, it is all about the voice.
This leads me to something else I was pondering, as you do. Mum and Dad have recently been reading offerings by Judy Finnigan after we met her this year. Both said they couldn’t help hear her voice and think about her because of the use of the first-person and that perhaps that’s a downfall if you know the writer. NO. I tried to explain that in the first person more than any other you are the character. When you read my novel and indeed any of my short stories, it isn’t me you should hear. Yes if you come to know my style then you will know there is a way I write, sure, that’s my author voice. But what you should hear is the character. Writers who write in their own voice are not challenging themselves, or at least that’s how I feel. I think what Dad said makes sense; it’s a skill that has to be learned. I will say no more on that.
So my challenge to you today is to write a short piece and think about voice. As inspiration think about Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads and monologues. See what you can capture in a short scene. Capturing character through strong voice will really give your work energy and take it to another level. Honest.
Oh and don’t forget to… be amazing today.
That is all.