Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Voice of Reason

Among the many properties this cyberjournal has for you is the way it allows you to essay an early draft of a notion, which you express with due judgment, this done with the awareness of how the judgment will, along with such other aspects as shape, length, point of view, and theme, change upon revision.

Thus the message, you begin with the need to express some contemporary attitude, which often becomes the governing force behind getting the material down in enough detail to identify itself for you. Given your growing understanding about what your process of composition has become, you understand how, in addition to the usual suspects for revision, judgment becomes one of the first to merit attention.

This should not come as the surprise it has become; for some time, you've considered Voice as the top of your list of priorities. Nor should you allow the matter to go unremarked upon that most if not all your personal favorite writers have a distinct, accessible voice, one that draws you to the subject at hand however much you might be struggling against the involvement. Daniel Woodrell. Katherine Mansfield. Elmore Leonard. Deborah Eisenberg, Louise Erdrich. James Lee Burke. Kate Atkinson. George Pelecanos. Louise Erdrich. Willa Cather. Joan Didion. And more recently, Tana French.

If anything, their individual voices make their narrative even more accessible in their final product, after consultation with an editor. As their reader, you know--or believe you know--more about their characters than is on the page; you feel invited, encouraged to infer. While all their stories have substance, they abide in your sensory banks because you were extended the invitation to infer. In each case, you accepted the invitation.

The message here is to make sure you revise the original, judgmental attitude triggering the early drafts, listening for the voice of the story.

Makes sense, doesn't it? After all, you advocate for keeping out of the story as a narrative force, delegating the duty to one or more characters. Find the voice of the story, then give it the keys to the vehicle.

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