Who’s speaking?

It was my creative writing group today, and although we have met over the summer, people have been on holiday or had visitors or other nice things which have taken them away from my class. So today I felt as if we were starting a new term.

We spent a lot of time last year thinking about inspiration, and what gets us writing, and we used a variety of stimuli, pictures, music, objects, postcards, photos of faces… But I thought today that we would start off on a new tack. I thought maybe we should think about the voice we use when we are writing; I touched on this before, but only fleetingly at the beginning, when i was getting to know my writers.

I had a little think, and did a little research and came out with a list for them to consider. They are all excellent writers, and they do adopt different voices, and use different ways of delivering their narrative, but I wanted them to think about it a little more consciously. I wanted them also to try and consider the pitfalls which various voices might have for the writer, and demonstrated this by sharing an excerpt from my next novel, Magick. Magick is written in the first person, and it is pretty obvious that there is an ongoing background story, so when the main character, Thomas, the narrator, gets trapped in a difficult and dangerous situation, the reader will actually know he’s going to escape… I thought this might diffuse the tension, make it less exciting, or less nail-biting… but I hope that the reader will be carried along by what’s happening and not give a second thought to the fact that Thomas will escape, he will get out of his tricky situation!

  • Epistolary voice (told through letters, documents, reports, blogs, emails etc…)
  • Stream of consciousness
  • Character voice  (including ‘we’) – in autobiographical fiction, like my novels ‘Radwinter’ and ‘Magick’ the first person narrator, Thomas,  is the character of the author,
  • Second person view  (unusual, but very common in song lyrics)
  • Unreliable voice – the narrator you can’t trust because he or she might be hiding things from you the reader
  • Third person, subjective
  • Third person, objective
  • Third person, omniscient
  • Alternating person view

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