Archive for February 23rd, 2016
The Eldest is almost four. He’s not quite at the “read-by-myself” stage, but he isat the point where he can take a story, turn the pages, and tell – verbally tell – the story by what’s in the pictures. Or, if he’s heard it enough, he can actually repeat most of what’s on the page.
One of his current favorite stories to read is “Uncle Scrooge Christmas” [Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol]. Last night, he read it to me. There are a variety of different dialogue tags in the story – growled, yelled, etc. 99% of them, he simply used “said” instead.
Intuitive understanding of simplicity in dialogue tags. I hope he remembers that as he gets older, especially if he follows me onto this crazy writing roller coaster.
Slight meander ahead…
The guest speaker for my first MFA Residency was Donald Maass. Most of his program-members-only presentation in the afternoon was focused around his book The Fire in Fiction (something I wasn’t fully aware of at the time, but others discussed after the session). Being the green writer that I was, with a few thousand words written of what would develop into my thesis and no idea where the story would go beyond them, I took copious notes. A means of of trying to internalize those questions by both combining both aural and mechanical exposure. Worst case, they would be things I could refer back to.
Jump forward a few terms. I was entering solidly into revision-mode for the thesis, and decided to use Maass’s Fire in Fiction for my craft book for that term. I read through the text, taking notes (a practice I’d not been in the habit of doing). Despite all the notes and advice in the book, the ultimate boil-down, take-away nugget is hat the fire in fiction is the individual writer.
Which brings me to my true reason for this post: In making my daily rounds, checking the regular handful of writers and blogs that I follow, I landed on this related post by Mary Robinette Kowal. Go read the full thing (using puppetry to explain Voice)
For writers, those individual choices come from your background, your lived experience, your taste and interests. I can teach mechanical and aesthetic voice, but I can’t teach personal voice. That personal voice though, that thing that is absolutely unique to you as a writer is why you must write.
No one else can write the things you will write in the way that you write them. You have a voice. Use it.
So, yes, that cool story may have been told eleventy-seven times already, but not how you might assemble the fleshy word-bits. There’s a reason why one of the root pieces of wisdom given to beginning/early writers always seems to be some variation of write for yourself, first, before worrying about what’s in the market. Doing so nurtus the development of that voice.