Happy Valentine's Day to all our
Since today is also Poetry Friday, I'll be sharing an excerpt from a favorite love poem at the end of this post. But first, I want to continue our current discussion of Voice, the third of the Six Traits of Writing.
As JoAnn said when she kicked off the topic last Friday: "we each have a writer’s voice that is all our own." Finding Your Writer's Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall (St. Martin's) calls voice "your most powerful tool" as a writer, saying:
"Your voice is actually a very ordinary thing: It is just who you are, projected artistically. It is often linked to your speaking voice, and your breath, and the rhythms and sense of pace that you draw on when you are too absorbed in what you are saying to listen to yourself from a distance. It is also linked to your body, the language or dialect you spoke in childhood, and whatever naturally interests you. Your voice is how you write when you don't have time to be elegant."Wednesday Writing Workout. (If you happen to live in the Chicago area, you may be interested in a course I'll be teaching this spring in Oak Brook, Illinois, using the book as our text. See my website for details.)
I love the experiment Jill mentioned in her post on Monday, in which students easily identified the author of something written by one of their classmates. It reminded me of feedback I've heard from several of our email subscribers. When they receive a TeachingAuthors post, they don't know who wrote it until they see the byline at the end. But after subscribing to our blog for awhile, they're able to guess the author long before then.
Jill also shared some wonderful examples of distinctive voices in picture book texts, in both first-person and third-person narratives. One thing my students often struggle with is making a first-person narrator's voice different from their own writing voice. I try to help by sharing this excerpt from Monica Wood's book Description (Writer's Digest Books):
"Consider the differences in the following line delivered by different narrators:
Sandra's son reminded me of a prince, only more imperious.
Sandra's kid looked kind of like my cousin Gino, only loads cuter.
Sandra's little boy reminded me of that boy in the shelter, only fatter, and a cleaner face. . . .
All of these narrators have a set of experiences and prejudices and obsessions that is unique to them. As their author you must allow them their own visions."
There's so much more I could say on the topic of voice, but I'll leave that to my fellow TeachingAuthors.
Before I share the poetry excerpt I promised, I want to remind you that today is the last day to enter for a chance to win Crystal Chan's acclaimed debut novel, Bird. You can read all about it here.
Now, for today's poem. One of my favorite love poems is "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" by e.e. cummings. Wow, talk about a distinctive voice! Here's how the poem ends:
from [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
by e.e. cummings
. . .
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
read the whole poem at the Poetry Foundation website. And then visit Linda's TeacherDance blog to check out the full Poetry Friday round-up.