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Week Two: writing in your authentic voice

This week’s prompts are at the very end of this post. Please welcome back lurking judge Kristin W who tweets as @kdwald and blogs at That Unique* Weblog. If you have any questions or need any clarification on today’s topic or prompts, please feel free to begin a discussion in comments.

If you’re here just to hang out, click here for the yeah write #65 hangout grid.

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Show Me a Truth 

I’m wholly impressed with the posts about Creating an Authentic Voice and doing the hard work to find out what that Voice Sounds Like.  Anything I add on will either be redundant or busybody advice. Bottom line: writing is not necessarily a conversation. Once it leaves your hands (or IP address), millions of people (in my case, dozens!) will get a chance to take in your words, taste them, chew on them for a while, and then choose whether they want to spit them out or swallow them whole. If you want readers to stick around, give them a narrator worth reading, worth pondering. Does it need to be Truth to be Authentic? I have my doubts.

See, the thing is, the internet will let us say whatever we want. No arguments. No filters.  If I want to tell the world that my Ford Escape was just side-swiped by Stephen Colbert’s Cadillac Escalade as he made a left turn onto North Mountain Avenue, I can. It doesn’t matter that none of those details are true.  Just the possibility that Stephen Colbert could have done it (he lives in my town) is enough. All I need is for a few people to believe it, and suddenly, for those who can’t or won’t or don’t check up on the facts, it is Truth.

In Jesus Christ Superstar, the most fantastic musical* of all time, Pilate asks a weary Jesus  about Truth: Is truth a changing law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours? Keeping these lines in mind can be very useful when reading (which any writer – aspiring or established – must do constantly) or writing.  In reading through the posts for Yeah Write over the last several months, I’ve found that it doesn’t have to matter whether something is true or not.  I was not there to witness the authenticity of events described. And had I been, I may have seen things very differently from what the author describes. In personal blog posts, it is the author’s Truth that matters.

And now I’ll backtrack on all that and get up on my soapbox.  Ready?

Perception and memory are utterly subjective.  They are yours, and yours alone. But purposely lying to your readers, as some bloggers have recently pointed out, hurts your relationship with a potential following.  It chips away at the Trust (another capital T word!) readers have for all blogging writers.  Or writing bloggers.  Feeling desperate to get another post out, especially when it’s meant to be in response to a prompt, can bring on some – shall we say – misremembering.  And as prompts get more specific, it can feel claustrophobic for those who haven’t had a lot of practice with checking out a prompt from all of its jaunty angles.

So here’s my challenge to those who wish to attack this week’s prompts: Try some fiction. It’s more work than telling a story about that cray-zee thing that happened in grocery aisle three, but it can also be freeing. I went to fiction last week because none of the prompts brought out an immediate response in my memory banks.  And that’s okay.  The one thing I strongly (auto-correct changed that to sternly) recommend when approaching fiction in a personal blog is to identify it as a work of fiction.  Your readers, and especially your commenters, will appreciate a clear identification at the start of your post.

Sound like a plan?

So, how does one look at prompts when thinking about fiction? How about writing from the perspective of an inanimate object? For this week’s prompts, be the “thing” that makes life livable, the chess piece, the neglected moment. They can all have a voice, a personality. Give emotion to the chess board, feeling the rooks glide over its body – but don’t ever mention that it’s “just” a piece of cardboard. Create an attitude, values, longing, a person. See how that works?  And suddenly you’ve got 50 Shades of Chess.  You’ll make a million dollars on Amazon!

*And that’s the Truth.

Keep in mind that the standards of the yeah write grids still apply. Bring us your very best stuff.  Before submitting a post to the summer writing series, consider whether it’s up to snuff regarding the FAQs and Guides that Erica has provided. If you just can’t stick to the 500-word limit, add your link to the hangout grid.

 

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all your story are belong to you

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  • Read the summer FAQ page for other details: the grid is being moderated and if you’re missing an element outlined in the summer FAQ, your post will not be published on the grid
  • Let the prompt lead you, but do not include the prompt in any way in your post, not at the beginning as an intro, not at the end as a footnote. If you reference the prompt in your post, your post will not be published on the grid
  • Remember: no more than 500 words. If your post exceeds 500 words, yup, you guessed it—no publish for you
  • If the prompt takes you from thunderstorms to watching TV at your grandma’s house to how much you love Pat Sajak to the oldest person you’ve ever kissed, we want that story the furthest away in your imagination from the original prompt. Let your imagination loose
  • Keep your writing style! Do you tell stories with humor? Prose? Verse? Photos? Illustrations? Keep doing that. We’ll read Shakespearean drama on our own time
  • Cut away at everything unnecessary to your story
  • Not ready to add your entry today? Still perfecting and reading other posts? No problem: you’ve got until Thursday at noon EDT [-4GMT]
  • Don’t forget to badge your post
  • Have fun!

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[divider_header_h3] This week’s prompts [courtesy of Tom Slatin] [/divider_header_h3]

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  • What is the one thing you cannot live without?
  • What is your favorite chess piece?
  • What is one thing nobody knows about you because nobody’s ever cared to ask?

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Yeah write #65 summer grid continues…