Cheryl Klein, Senior Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic) blogged on “voice” in preparation for her upcoming talk. Cheryl, who’s so generous with her advice to writers posts many of her talks on her website. I urge you to check them out.
And for anyone writing or revising and perhaps struggling with voice, this blog post is not to be missed.
In my current WIP I’m using a lot of freewriting to find and stay in voice throughout the story. And it’s very much in line with several of Cheryl’s points, particularly:
“Start out writing everything that comes to mind—all the backstory, internal monologue, etc., you want. Then you have it all laid out before you and you just have to choose what’s truly necessary and cut the rest.”
I think in the past I worried about too much naval-gazing and consequently couldn’t stay in the head of my MC long enough to maintain her voice. Writing everything that comes to mind creates surprising thoughts, turns of phrase, and humor that allows me to enter more deeply into my MC’s first person voice. So for now, I’m turning off my internal editor knowing I’ll be cleaning and cutting late.
Another trick I love to use is talking out scenes, even before they’re written — sometimes with a little voice lilt or accent going on. (I might have to start carrying my voice recorder in my car!) This is a great help in developing the rhythm of a character’s voice which seems also key. And it happens to be really fun!
Thanks again to Cheryl for sharing wise advice that keeps us rolling, whether through first drafts or 4th-round revisions.