Posted in General

The Intuitive Nature of Writing

Every writer has their own particular style: their voice. A large portion of that is based on knowing what sounds good. Knowing what sounds good however, doesn’t necessarily mean being an expert grammarian.

Taking an example from real life, school is well into its early weeks here. This lead to my nephew coming home with homework on the different types of nouns, and that lead to my sister turning to me with the question:

What’s a non-count noun?

Much as I wish I could say I told her they were all of those nouns that can’t be counted such as art, love, clothing, justice, and therefore don’t have a regular plural form, my response was to stare at her and ask her to repeat herself in a way that made sense. (Thankfully, Google is a friend and we were able to help my nephew with his homework).

While I’m sure somewhere along the way that bit of information was imparted to me it’s clearly not something that stuck around. Do I know that if I want to discuss art in a plural sense I need to say artworks or even works of art? Yes. The same goes for clothing. I can discuss the individual items such as shirts, dresses, pants or socks, or the pieces of clothing, but I can’t throw an s on clothing if I’m discussing then entire group. I also know that if I’m trying to discuss plural forms of love or justice I’m going to have to get a little creative and that context is going to be very important.

That’s where writer intuition comes into play. Although we may not be able to explain exactly why something sounds good, we do know what. And like everyone has a preference for different music styles, each writer has a preference for different sounds in terms of flow and voice. It’s what gives us so much variety in the world of literature.

Writing at it’s core is telling a story, and figuring out which words will spark the most reaction out of your audience. It’s knowing that fire sounds bland, but inferno sounds powerful. Sometimes of course, it’s also not knowing. It’s the intuitive part of testing and retesting words until you find the one that just sounds right.

Posted in Exercises, writing

Finding Voice

Voice, in writing, is a one of the most powerful and unique tools a writer possesses. Although every writer has a voice, it varies from writer to writer. There may be similarities but it’s never exactly the same between two writers.

Finding your own voice as a writer is something that takes time however. Just as most of us edit and polish our stories to be the best they can be, developing voice takes work and effort to figure out our unique flair for story-telling.

The easiest way to find voice is by writing. And more writing. Along with some rewriting. One of my favorite exercises for this is retellings. Grab copies of some of your favorite fairy tales and retell them in your own style. Add in dialogue, detail and foreshadowing as you feel necessary. This gives you a chance to find your own personal taste in story content, which can help you in deciding what sort of scenes you need to learn to write and therefore, where your voice is likely to develop.

Another way might be by checking newspaper articles. Because of the limited space, a lot of paper articles are pretty much the bare facts. Try writing these into stories, and again add in the dialogue and details as you feel necessary. This is especially helpful if you’re looking to write non-fiction, mystery or crime since you’ll get a chance to test out your detective skills on the available information.

Writing challenges such as flash- or micro-fiction can also help you discover your voice. These extremely short pieces of work help you pick out the precise words to deliver the most impact because they’re usually less than a few hundred words.

Finally, consider Role Playing as a method to help. Many RPG’s are heavily based on the story-aspect. So go ahead and write down the grand adventures you go on in these games, just don’t forget to take out all the fortitude checks. As a bonus, building the campaigns for these games can often help with worldbuilding and plot development as well.