Table Of Contents
Voice in Fiction
The creative voice is as famous in fiction writing as it is in music, albeit not the same way. Everyone who has taken a creative writing course or read a lot of books knows about this. It seems to be one of those strange phenomenon: once one knows it, one just gets it. Nevertheless, it remains a traditional mystery of the written word and the creative art of novelists and fiction story writers.
What most students of creative writing want to know about ‘voice’ is how to imbue their written work with one, and even more deeply how to develop their own and how to share it with others. For some reason it doesn’t seem as straightforward as it does with the spoken word and regular voice.
Many journalists are also forced to use some voice other than their own when they start their writing careers, and in truth many a ghostwriter learns to imitate the written voice of others more than learning to hone their own.
One reason for that is that the art of the written word is similar to that of painting in the sense that “imitating the Masters” is one of the best ways to build skill in the field. Musicians also know this: learn to play the music of the great composers to achieve excellence in skill with your instrument.
As an exercise, describe yourself, or a pet or friend. Write it up from the perspective of yourself, then try at least 2 other perspectives. See how it is the same and how it becomes different. Once you write them all up, and re-read them, if you can, dare to share and get feedback from others on a forum or in person.
Creativity versus Skill
The reality is that some folks find it easier or more natural to be creative while others feel much more comfortable with honing their skill at something but feel a bit nonplussed if asked to be creative. This is true across numerous fields, and the arts are no exception.
Skill is always helpful, and in general should be considered mandatory. The best way to get it aside from copying greats of literature, is to practice. Students are advised to try writing in a way that feels natural but to also experiment with what doesn’t. Success can be surprising. There’s no reason to assume that Arthur Conan Doyle planned to have Dr. Watson – also a character in the stories, to narrate the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and yet one of the reasons for the success of those tales is exactly that: a narrator with so much character, that he’s in the stories as a character! I’ve even heard of a lady who has had much greater financial success as soon as she started using an imaginary voice of her pet dog as the narrator. Notice in both cases, the “author’s unique voice” is not the narrator, but there is a narrative voice as part of the over all piece of work. It can be a little confusing for those trying creative writing; it is a bit like “levels of mind”: the author, then the narrator, then any character or characters.
Narrative POV (point of view)
First person narrative is when the short story or novel is written from the main character’s subjective perspective. Normally, there should be either no resemblance or only the vaguest or most oblique relationship between the character’s subjective point of view and the author. In this case, the author has no choice but to understand the main character and limit the communication to that perspective.
Third person narrative is more of the “fly on the wall” type of perspective. This vantage point can be very objective, or not even remotely. This is the place where an author has to decide about devising a narrative voice. Narrators can range from wanting to not even be noticed – more of a ‘window onto the story’ approach, to the other extreme of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories where the narrator is actually the side kick of Sherlock Holmes and has a very active role in the stories.
Third person omniscient. This is a type of narrative position which enables the written work of stories and novels to be different from most TV and film and playwriting. In this type of narration, the author reads the minds of characters at will, and is able to share such information with the reader. The written form is particularly well suited to this, as is conversation amongst people in ordinary life.
So, how to learn to write with narrative voice in fiction. Experimentation can be most helpful. The greatest adepts of creative writing can change their narrative voices to suit the genre, the project, the context and yet somehow also leave fans feeling absolutely certain of who the author was, and how distinctive he or she really is, as a literary artist.
Writing Using Mind Maps
So before we get into the details of how to begin to write a memoir using a mind map I would like to define both memoir and mind map so we are all on the same page in this conversation. A memoir is a story drawn from real life. This means a memoir is nonfiction. It is also known as creative nonfiction. It is important to learn how to use writing techniques to develop your setting, dialogue and multidimensional characters to show your readers what happened in this snapshot of your life.
One of the most powerful strategies that I use all the time in writing is called mind mapping. Tony Buzan formalized this technique in the early 1970’s. A mind map is a tool to help people organize their thoughts and develop spontaneous associations connected to the central theme you are developing. As a side note I always use a bit of color when I do this because I like it better and the color and shapes you use opens up your right brain, so creative juices flow better.
For me creating a mind map is the beginning of all my writing In the center of your paper write MY MEMOIR or whatever title you have been thinking about. Draw a circle in the center. Think about the main ideas you might like to include. Please relax about this. Nothing you write is written in stone. Ask yourself some short questions like Who Am I? or Where Did I Come From? Draw a line from the center to the short questions and draw a circle around the question. then draw a line from the circle, and add thoughts like blonde hair, blue eyes, tall, musical, great swimmer etc. As you keep doing this pretty soon you have a large paper filled with ideas and thoughts.
So after you have a basic and flexible mind map, take the next step. That step is jump in and write some more. Do a rough draft. Allow your energy to just flow. Allow the words to appear on the page.
Look at your mind map, add color whenever you feel like it.You can even doodle on it. It is your creation and really helps your creativity flow. Allow images to appear in your mind.
Do not worry about the sequence of events. All of that can be changed, and arranged later. You need material on paper to work with. As you work through your first draft I would like to remind you of what one of my favorite authors said “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The Philosophy Of Writing
Writing according to the Philosopher Derrida is: to write is to have the passion of origin. In this article I would like to focus on the Philosophy of writing.
Writing is the music of sounds and the painting of words. Writing is the dance of metaphors, the flirtation of similes, the cacophony of metonymy, the exuberance of hyperbole, the music of oxymoron and the life of onomatopoeia.
What is writing in the experiential context? Writing is an inward journey of experiential aesthetics. Writing is an aesthetic Sisyphus dancing with Nietzsche’s theory of art. For Nietzsche, writing occurs as an art with the synthesis of the Dionysian and Apollonian elements. The Dionysian elements are rhythm and beat and the Apollonian elements are melody and harmony. The Dionysian elements of writing are art words sculpted into figures of speech and the Apollonian elements are the aesthetic experience of the work.
Now why do I write? I write because of the love of writing and also the pleasure of the pen. Writing is the marvel of thought and happens when the experience of life becomes synthesized into nuances of feeling. How does feeling occur? For feeling the transformative experiences of nature become surrendered to the memory of thought. Such feelings accumulate in the brain and become fuel for the aesthetics of art. Writing is the figuration of being. Writing is an existential frenzy of the transfiguration of the soul. Writing is the paradox of art. Writing is the soul of literature.
Writing is the streams of consciousness of the soul. Seasons of gratification become the font of joy.
Now where does the Philosophy of writing come from? It comes from the life of living experience. It also comes from the reading of texts on literature, Philosophy, Art, and autobiographies. There is a dialogic encounter with the pen and it becomes a pinion for the fonts to exert themselves.
It is the enjoy-ability of the text. The text is a narcissistic entity caught up in the fetish of desire. The body of writing is the ego and the text of writing is the ethos of passion. It is the sublimation of the ID, the deification of the ego and the subversion of the super-ego.
Now what is the space occupied by Philosophy?
There is a generation of ideas. Let is consider some examples. For example there is Plato’s allegory of the cave. There is a dark cave and in it there are folks and there is a beam of light emanating from the outside and people are groping for the light. What Plato meant was, beyond the sensible world there is a beautified world of forms. Now let’s consider another example from the Philosopher Julia Kristeva.
She said there two types of texts and they are the semiotic and the symbolic texts. The semiotic texts are those where there is lack of grammar and punctuation. Such texts can be found in dance, poetry, music and streams of consciousness.
The symbolic texts are those which have proper rules of grammar and such texts are found as legal and medicinal texts. There are some texts which merge the semiotic and the symbolic elements.