Sunday, March 13, 2011

When The Character's Voice Becomes Your Own

While writing a dialog in which Jeremiah talks about his past, I suddenly realized that Jeremiah's voice was gone, and my own voice took over his own.

I stopped writing and stared at the last few sentences. Clearly, Jeremiah was gone. Instead I found my own feelings, my own ideas and my own past.

Exposing myself in such a blunt way was not my goal. I am not writing to convey an idea, or to express an opinion. I write because I want to tell a story, period. Finding myself taking over my main protagonist in such a way was not a joyful experience. I know my own life's story. I'm not sure I want anybody else to know it that intimately.

Taking a step back and re-writing the section I was working on was the reasonable thing to do. But I wanted my story to Go Forward. So I took another look at what I wrote, decided it was not that personal, and moved on. And yet - it still nags me. I don't want to tell my story. I want to tell Jeremiah's story.

I posted on and asked about the effect of personal feelings while writing. John Smithers offered a great response:

You are cutting off your most valuable writing resource...Free it, or I promise you a massive writer’s block.
He is right, of course. But I do need to find a way to have Jeremiah find his own words, and not use mine.


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