Friday, August 6, 2010

Voices in Our Heads

Ha ha. I'm still laughing at the little coincidences. When I went to post a photo of myself, I realized my photographer's name was...Candi.

I love candy. Licorice, Bit o' Honey, gummy bears, Swedish fish, saltwater taffy, butterscotch discs, cherry Life Savers, Big Hunk candy bars, anything chocolate. Bring it on. I think I don't just have one sweet tooth. I think they're all sweet.

But, back to writing.

I have often heard other writers tell me they hear voices in their heads. I love it. And the voices--both things make me feel "not alone." I think it's true that the characters in stories we write often speak to us, telling us things about themselves only our deep subconscious knows. Sometimes I have been utterly shocked by some of the things that fly off the tips of my finger as I write. I think, Certainly that didn't come from *my* mind. Someone else must be in there.

Last night at our writing group, my friend Louise brought some thoughts by Walt Harriman. She took them from A Writer's Essay: Seeking the Extraordinary in the Ordinary. One point was that we can capture a narrator's voice (the point-of-view character) by writing from inside the head of the subject. "Try to invoke his/her emotional reality--their felt lives."

To me, that's the difference between a story I can pick up and put down at will, and one I can't put down. If I'm deep in the "felt life" of the main character, it's much easier to immerse in the story.

Ways he suggests to do this are using telling or sensory details, real-life dialogue, interior monologue, and to create physical details of places and people along with descriptions of a character's tics and mannerisms.

This is all stuff writers know, but it's good to remind ourselves, especially during editing phases (which is where I'm at right now with a story.) If a story is falling flat, we can go back and do these things to, as Harriman says, "imbue it with soul."

My favorite thing from Louise was this Mark Twain quote:  

"What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and words! His real life is led in his head."

Love that.

Let the voices in our heads chatter on!

1 comment:

  1. The voices in my head are telling me to eat a Kit Kat right now. Or a Twix.


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