Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Voice

What I'm reading: Learning Curve by Terry McLaughlin; Cinderella Tannenbaum, by Dara Edmondson

What I'm writing: My Valentine's Day story, still untitled.

I found my notes from the Voice workshop given by Barbara Samuel. Although she lectured, chatted, and imparted lots of valuable information, most of the day was spent in free writing to help us discover our voices. As she puts it, your voice is your body, your style is the clothing you put on. Or, if your voice is a potato, your style is how you cook it. Another thing I found interesting, since I thought my voice in "Words" was very different from what I'd consider my 'normal' voice, was her comparison to changing the way you speak based on where you are and who you're with is a change of style, not voice. An author with a strong voice will often hear readers say, "You sound just like your book." Another tidbit--avoid 'writerly language' because you'll lose your voice.

Barbara wanted us to see that our voices are determined by where we come from, what impressed us growing up, our neighborhoods, the languages and dialects we spoke and heard. She started out with a 3 minute timed writing with the prompt, "I am seven years old..." When we finished, brave souls shared their writing, and it was fascinating to see what resonated for us. We moved on to, "I am twelve years old..." which brought forth a lot of angst. From there, we looked at being born into other cultures, to writing about our relatives, and trying to define the culture we were brought up in, remembering what the house we lived in at age twelve was like, what it was like to be eighteen--all exercises to get us in touch with ourselves.

Then we moved on to seeing what kind of people we were. She had us list 15 things we loved, and I was surprised to find that I, the scientist, was really a very sensual person. I had trouble with my top 10 movies, mostly because we hardly ever go see any. But the ones I listed were pretty much all adventure flicks, which goes along with the romantic suspense stories I'm working on.

Our final exercises were to take a picture from a stack she passed around the room, and write about it. Then, we passed the picture to the person next to us and wrote about the one they'd picked. We learned how much easier it was to write about something we "liked", and also how two people writing about exactly the same picture, could come up with totally different 'voices.' I wrote about two people on a cruise ship, and my partner wrote about an alien invasion.

She left us with a 4 page worksheet to take home and use to develop everything we'd worked on.

A great day!

1 comment:

Julie S said...

I agree, that day was fabulous!!! I'm still wading through all the wisdom she imparted...connecting to the honesty and thinking about what is real to you. Good, good stuff.