Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear Ann: This Sounds Ridiculous.

At the Whole Novel Workshop in Honesdale, our teaching assistant, Candy Dahl, proposed an exercise for developing a character’s voice.
  1. Take a blank piece of paper.
  2. Write “Dear [your name]” at the top.
  3. Write “Love [your character’s name]” at the bottom.
  4. Lie down on your bed and imagine your character entering the room and talking to you.
  5. After five minutes, get up and write what the character said. Stream of consciousness is okay.
Yeah, it sounds crazy, but it works.

I experimented with this technique at Honesdale and got amazing results. I am doing a major revision in which my main character and his love interest change places, and the voice of the new main character has eluded me. Since every draft should have one purpose, I put aside my worries about voice and focused on the major changes in the plot.

The first draft is finished, and now is the time to think about voice.

I decided to start each writing day with Candy’s exercise. My (new) main character is bossy and more than happy to tell me what to do. It’s working so far. 


SueBE said...

It does sound . . . too easy to believe? How can something that is so difficult be this easy. But I'm definitely going to give it a try!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Sue: I think the character's voice is already in our heads, but we get distracted with the plot etc. When the character is simply talking, and those other things are out of the way, it's easier to hear. Let me know how it works.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Sounds good! I love easy tips!

Wyman Stewart said...

Have you or writers you know interviewed characters to get to know them?

I agree with your suggestion. Nor does it sound crazy. Characters like to talk. At least the ones in my head do.

;-( They're coming to take me away...ha ha...They're coming to take me away...ho ho...To Be Continued...

Ann Finkelstein said...

Wyman: I'll try an interview today.

Gina Gort said...

Thanks for sharing this tip. I can't wait to have time to try it. And so glad it lead to good revisions :)