This is the 4th Thursday of the month, which means instead of the Thursday Three, it’s Thirsty Thursday! Last month, I posted a recap of a class taught by Linore Rose Burkard at the 2009 FaithWriters conference. This month, I’m going to share what Cori Smelker taught in her workshop, You Got Style – Yes You do! Finding your Voice in the Midst of the Melee.
Cori gave us a handout (LOVE those hand-outs!) with several tips on how to find your voice. If you’re struggling with developing your individual style, try some of these suggestions and see if your voice starts getting clearer. I posted a few of her tips (only a few of the many she listed) and expanded them with my own thoughts. Cori did a fabulous job with this – her wisdom and insight is amazing.
1. Play Games. Choose one topic at a time from the following list and write for 5 minutes straight about that topic. No matter what, don’t lift your pen off that page (or let those fingers rest on the keyboard).
* Childhood memories
* Dreams and nightmares
* If I had a million dollars, I would…
* Things that are creepy
* Things that are sexy
* Best foods
* What I want most in the world.
The idea is that by randomly writing with wild abandon, aspects of your voice will magically emerge.
2. Challenge your preconceptions. Get inside another person’s head and understand their viewpoint. For example, if you’re a conservative, pretend you’re a liberal and write an entire page defending one of their political positions. Or if you’re an animal rights activist, write an entire page about going shopping for a fur coat.
3. Write from Passion. What are you passionate about? How would you argue that Jesus is the son of God? What words would you use to describe an event or cause you believe in? What makes your blood boil or your heart soar? Find those things and turn them into wonderful pieces of writing.
4. Take Risks. Think writing about something would be too embarrassing, too risky, or too challenging? Then that’s exactly what you should write about. Think outside the box. Try a new genre or style. Can’t stand science fiction? Try writing it! You may just find a voice you never knew you had.
5. Get a little help from your friends. Once you have several stories or articles written, ask friends and fellow writers if they can identify a specific voice. Ask them what’s unique about it. What makes it exciting or dull? See what words they would use to describe your voice.
6. Write like you talk. Here is where I think many writers miss it. Have you ever read dialogue that sounds stilted and awkward? Maybe you’ve found yourself saying, “people don’t say that today” or “she’s talking like she’s from the fifties, when the story is set in the year 2009.” Pay attention to how you talk and try to write as similarly as you can. Unless, of course, your book is set in a different era. But even then, keep it as “real” as possible.
7. Remember, writing is about rewriting. Even writers who have a distinct voice spend plenty of time rewriting. The key is not to rewrite your voice right out of the story. Sometimes, due to critique partner suggestions or over-analyzing, we lose our voice somewhere in the editing process. Try to stay as true to your personal voice and style while at the same time creating an excellent story.
Thanks again to Cori for a fabulous workshop. I can’t get over what a wealth of information I took home from last year’s FaithWriters conference. Can’t wait to see what this year will bring!