Tuesday’s Tutor: Whose Voice IS This, Anyway?

EASY AS A, B, C . . . from BB

At our marvelous, week-LONG workshop, Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, WIFYR, the teacher whose class I was in—the marvelous Cheri Pray Earl—challenged us at the very beginning of the week to rewrite one scene from a different Point of View (POV).  I think that was on Monday—by Thursday night, fighting through the deluge of assignments (thanks for pushing, Cheri!), I realized I still had not tried that particular challenge.

Every day, we were supposed to rewrite 5 to 7 pages of our manuscript.  I had another one due the next morning.  By Thursday, I was so dead tired, there was no way I could write anything more.  Well, I could if I put it off until Friday.  So I went to bed, got up at 5:00am and gave it a whirl until time to leave for class.

The evening before, I’d tried to imagine whether to change from a more-or-less omnipotent “narrator” to first or third person.  Or I could try writing from a specific character.  Whom would I choose?  I thought about an interesting, fun, but minor character—a witchy character—who would be probably the most difficult to write for.  And there was no way I could write the whole book in her POV—she wasn’t enough of a character.  But at five in the morning, everyone’s a little crazy, so I gave it a whirl.  I wrote in Olde Elli’s 1st person voice.  A bit of old-time dialect crept in—just a little—and a lot of quirkiness.  It was fun!  I hurriedly ran off copies for class.  When it was my turn to read, that morning, I nearly rebelled.

“I just wrote this today today at five a.m.  I’m not even sure it makes sense.”

But, my darling class mates loved it.  So did Cheri.

As I went through it with the class, listening to their helpful critiques, I realized I had further enhanced an already interesting character—and she was changing my story.  For “the good”!  She carved out a more important part for herself, and melded with another almost nonentity in the story who needed some buttressing herself.  She, amazingly, has turned out to be related to some of the other characters, and is almost a lynch pin within the tale.  Who knew?

If you’re getting bored with a story you’re working on, or feel it needs a little sprucing up, try it.  Write from a different character’s point of view.  Or change the voice from 1st to 3rd.  Or 3rd to 1st.  Or try writing in 2nd person—now that’s a challenge, and few books have been written in 2nd person.  I wrote a very short story/essay years ago in 2nd person . . . and won prizes with it!

Come on, what have you got to lose?  You may not have located your story’s voice yet.  Find out Whose Voice This IS, Anyway!

See you day-after-tomorrow for “Thursday’s 13″

Have questions about writing (grammar, punctuation, getting published, etc.)?  Brenda Bensch, M.A., a teacher of multiple decades’ experience in Utah’s university/high school/community ed. classrooms (English, fiction/non-fiction writing, study skills, drama, humanities, debate, etc.), invites you to “Ask The Teacher” at  http://BenschWensch.wordpress.com



Filed under Teacher

2 responses to “Tuesday’s Tutor: Whose Voice IS This, Anyway?

  1. This is a great idea! Thanks, Brenda.

  2. benschwensch

    Thank YOU, Diann—I hope it works at least half as well for you as it did for me when I tried it. If it does, you’ll be very pleased with the outcome.

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