Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hearing Voices

Last week I wrote two pieces of copy. When my boss handed them back to me, he said, "They're both good, but I enjoyed this one more." I knew which one he meant before he told me.

Why? I think it came down to voice. On the one piece I had a clear picture of the audience I was writing for and exactly what kind of tone I wanted to talk to them in. I could hear it in my head. If I was speaking with them on the street, this is how I would say it, I thought. And I went with that.

For the other piece of writing, the voice was murkier and more technical. I wasn't as sure-footed in what  I was going to say. It was still a solid piece of writing, but it lacked the punch of the other copy.

I'm noticing this a lot in my revisions. I see places where the writing picks up and zips along compared to places where it's all a little flat. A lot of times it comes down to the fact that I couldn't see the story in my head at the time or even the characters. I have to readjust myself and get back into their world. This just happened to her, how would she react to it?

It's often why, before I sit down to write, I have to start thinking about the world the characters inhabit. I have a hard time sitting down "cold," if you will, and immediately picking up their voices. Even if it's just on the drive to the coffeeshop or while I'm loading the dishwasher before I get into the writing, I try to warm it all up in my head.

What do you do to grab that voice that is so important? Can you sit down "cold" or do you have to warm up to your writing?


  1. I do exactly the same as you! I visualize the scene I'm going to be working on many, many times before writing it. It won't be exactly the same, but it lets me think about the smaller pieces that I may not have considered while outlining, like a little quirk of dialogue, or an interesting detail, or a good metaphor for something. I do it all the time, pretty much, for whatever scene is up next.

  2. In a pinch, I'll read the previous pages I wrote. This almost always puts my head back into character mode. I can't sit down and automatically start typing. If I do that's where I'll find the lag in the flow of my words. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Suzanne-
    It's good to know I'm not alone! I usually squeeze my writing time in on my lunch break, so I don't have a lot of "prep" time to get back into that character.

    I totally agree that reading previous pages can help. That lag shows up on the page and it's usually where things fall flat for me.