In today’s Journal
* Topic: Your Unique Voice, Part 3
* Of Interest
Topic: Your Unique Voice, Part 3
Thanks for your patience. Here are my final thoughts (for now) on “Your Unique Voice.” You can click these links to read Your Unique Voice: Part 1 and Your Unique Voice: Part 2. I recommend reading the posts in sequence.
Finally, understand the difference between “your” story and your characters’ story.
Your story is the life you’re living. In your story you’re currently reading a blog about writing. You can revise your story at will. You can choose to do one thing rather than another, to say one thing rather than another, to act and react as you decide moment to moment. I’m just saying, give your characters that same freedom as they live their story.
Now later, fingers crossed, you’ll sit at a keyboard and type-in a story. But the story you relate through your keyboard will be your characters’ story.
I realize this seems like a nitpicky distinction, but it’s far more important than you know. So whatever it takes you to get there, do it. In my case, I believe my characters’ stories are ongoing, maybe in another dimension (doesn’t matter), even when I’m not looking in on them.
A note on the perils of revision
If you revise your characters’ story as a result of input from any critical mind—again, even your own—you’ll signal to your characters and your creative subconscious that you don’t trust them.
You’ll convey that you believe your (or some other) conscious, critical mind knows their story better than they do.
But if you believe that, you’re wrong. And not trusting them is the quickest way I know to make your characters stop sharing their stories with you and fade away to nothing. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
After all, chances are pretty good you or your readers will never physically travel to a distant planet on a generation space ship.
But as you convey your characters’ story on their behalf, you’ll be on that generation ship with them. Of course, you’ll outlive your characters. You’ll sadly bid farewell to each passing generation and welcome rising ones until the descendents arrive at the new world some three hundred years from now. Then maybe you’ll take your leave of them. Or maybe you’ll settle in and record some of the stories they live in that new world.
Chances are also good you’ll never ride wild on a good horse in a just cause.
But you can saddle up and ride virtually with your characters as you record their story. You can bear witness as they stand in the stirrups and charge a band of outlaws who outnumber them in every way but sheer determination. You might even stand in the stirrups yourself, your Winchester carbine in your shoulder or six guns blazing.
And chances are you’ll never drop back in time to the Spanish Civil War, choose a side and help set the explosives that derail the menacing new train shipment and shift the tide of battle.
But you can move virtually (and as quietly as possible, please) as you follow the narrow line of your characters over the loose shale and through the sparse brush on the hillside to where the base of the train trestle is anchored in bedrock. You can watch as some of your characters set the charges, hopefully without being spotted. You can even help them set the charges. Or you can hang back with the grizzled old crippled character who’s watching the soldiers on the bridge high above, a Springfield rifle at your shoulder in case they spot your friends.
You’re a writer. You are unique. Your characters have granted you the exclusive license to record their stories, and aren’t you the lucky one?
So record the stories. Write the first story to the best of your current ability, then submit or publish it and move on to write the next, then the next, and so on.
Don’t second-guess the folks who are living the story, and don’t allow anyone else to second-guess them. Let them speak through your fingertips and the keyboard onto the screen, and let that unique, original voice stand.
As a bonus, writers who continue to study and learn the craft AND who can learn to trust their own creative subconscious can be as prolific as their schedule allows. Why?
Because all they have to do is show up. They are free to just write. They don’t have to waste time on outlining and critique groups and revisions and rewrites and polishing. They can just convey the characters’ stories one after another after another.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? And it’s completely up to you.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Tried Something New For Me” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/tried-something-new-for-me/. At first I thought he meant he’d never written a story from multiple viewpoints. I was relieved when I re-read it and realized (I hope) he only meant he’d never flipped a story from one POV to another before. Whew!
See “Trending or Trendy?” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/02/trending-or-trendy.html.
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.