18 Aug 2020
My voice is louder in writing than it is in speaking. I find it easier to express myself on the page. Well, at least that’s what I always thought was the reason. It’s not easier, it’s harder in the sense that every sentence represents a thought which needs to be processed:
Is this useful?
Is it interesting?
Will it make the reader want to continue?
Having decided it’s worth including, the act of typing the words commits them to the screen and the editor in me (I call her Nina) is already itching to change them.
Not yet, I beg her. Let me write the whole thing first, then you’ll see if it works or not.
So, why is my voice clearer to me when I write? Perhaps because it’s the only time I quieten enough to listen to it, or pause long enough to focus on one moment in life. It’s me telling myself stories and that’s why my voice seems louder to me on the page.
Telling stories is easier than writing them. We don’t interrupt ourselves to ‘edit’ as we go along. We can see from people’s faces whether they find them interesting and adapt accordingly. We can improve them in the retelling as we learn what gets the best reactions.
Writing the story can be very quick but, except for a few genius writers, this first shot is unlikely to make great reading. It will need work or might even be thrown out as not a great story after all, but without these first shots, there’s nothing to work with.
All of my writing starts as a short story. If it really is a very short story it might turn into a poem or a blog. A lot stay as short stories. The ones that become screenplays or novels are the stories that are longer and more intriguing. The ones I want to know more about.
I write in the knowledge that it’s difficult to make people read anything longer than a few sentences. Each must lead to the next invisibly, compelling the reader to continue. They want to get lost in the story, so I need involve them from the very start. My way of doing that is to get lost in the story myself.
I write quite slowly so I can think and write simultaneously. I often get frustrated that I can't keep up with the thoughts and words in my head. Most of them, of course, aren’t worth capturing, so I pause and wait for something to pique my interest (this often involves a lengthy inner argument with Nina). Writing slowly, I have found, is the quickest way to find my voice.
The longer stories are not just my voice. They are the voices of those whose stories I want to bring to life. Stories that need to be heard, that are worth telling to more than just a few people. Their voices strengthen mine and bring clarity, credibility and insight to their fictional lives.
Isn’t putting your voice into writing a weird and wonderful thing?