If writing voices are so individual, so personal, can we mimic another with success? I don`t think so; our individual histories gives us an unlimited resource and that resource gives us our voice. There is nothing fresh or vibrant in the retelling of someone else’s story, unless we add our own emotional spin to it. As writers, we need a point of reference or a way to relate to the events in our imaginations so those events can be expressed in a moving, exciting or entertaining way. A good gossip like a good writer uses their instincts to make these stories come alive, and the grapevine game proves that old stories can be reborn into something completely different.
Writing is a learning process; some find it more difficult and more satisfying than others. Digging deep in our emotional vault, or memories, can be very difficult when life has gone out of its way to build our character. The memories that seemed best forgotten are our best resource–changing us, and breathing new life into us. A pile of steaming manure can change dried up soil into a lush and beautiful garden and in the case of good writing that same pile can bring about insightful and sensitive stories. You`ve probably guessed that I’ve gone through some extraordinary trails, and I`m glad I did because they’ve made me a better person.
Have you ever listened to a really good gossip? They start off slow, and hook you so deep that you’d follow them to hell and back to get every last detail. And how many times have they told the story–hundreds, maybe thousands of times? With each telling it gets bigger, more dramatic, and better–so much better. The local gossip uses their voice and we have ours.
How did the gossip do it? Putting themselves in the story made it their own, and using their compassion, outrage, shock, or anger, they set the hook. Through their passionate reaction to what happened, and our empathy, we connect with them. It draws us together and lets us experience the story as one entity. We might both be outsiders and never experienced the events first hand but, we know how we’d feel about it.
No human being can experience everything, yet on a whim writers can write about anything they like. How can we do this with believable insight or spark of realism? Interviews, research, or imagining what might happen are some methods. There are tricks that I’ll keep to myself for now. All you need to know is each time you write, you do a little better.
The next time you want to try using another’s voice think about the grapevine–you know the game where there is a long line of people and someone whispers a sentence into the first ear and the message is passed on down the line. The last person says the sentence aloud, and its never right. Don’t repeat someone else’s story; instead, tell your own–passion and all.