Hearing Voices

One of my favourite pastimes is earriwigging – listening undetected to other folks’ conversations. I’m not a snooper, really I’m not. It’s just that whenever I’m travelling, it’s almost impossible to ignore the conversations going on around me, especially the mobile phone conversations. Some of what I hear is fairly inarticulate:
“like what? Well…you know…ugh, that’s so gross.”
Other snippets are quite intriguing like this one between two girls on a train:
“Yeah, he came to the pet shop. I nearly died when he walked in. Then he said he liked my hamster.”
“Never heard it called that before. Did he buy it?”

Writing a blog has given me yet another opportunity to hear voices – from the writing. I’m a newbie when it comes to blogging and so one of the things that struck me as I started to read blogs was the diversity of voices – not so much in subject matter – I expected that – but in tone and attitude. I hear angry voices, challenging voices, positive and negative voices, hurt voices – all the tones and emotions you can think of. This is rich pickings for a wannabe writer.

The point of all this is that I need to hear voices. As I move from non-fiction writing to fiction, I find it tough to discard my own voice (warm, friendly, non-preachy with just un soupcon of irony when appropriate)and find suitable ones for my characters. Somehow, and I don’t know why it happens, my own voice will insist on breaking through. So just as I approach the most romantic scene where my hero (tall, handsome with aquiline nose, finely chiselled jaw) is determinedly yet sensitively getting round to dating my heroine (beautiful, feisty but vulnerable),instead of persuasive, seductive, beguiling words, the voice in my head butts in and my hero says “get your coat on love, you’ve pulled.”

Should I try another genre do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Hearing Voices

  1. It doesn’t hurt to play around with various genres to improve your skills. As for your voice getting into the characters, the only advice I can give is to practice listening to the characters more than your own voice when writing. I’ve done a lot of focused daydreaming with my characters to get a better feel for them and I write throw-away scenes to get used to writing them. After awhile, you get a sense of how the character would talk and act. That’s really the trick. Practice, experimentation, and good old determination. Though, I would recommend not getting into public fights with your characters. It’s an easy way to scare a Burger King full of people.

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