Friday, July 1, 2011

Who are we, really? And can I be someone else?

Reading Anne Lower's guest post at Save the Cat reminded me that, as a writer, I'm still not sure what my “voice” sounds like. I did submit a random essay about birds to this one time, and was told that I Write Like … drum roll … Neil Gaiman! But I'm not entirely sure that's true.

Although it's very exciting all the same. I write like Neil Gaiman and have way more time to post on my blog than he does. Tell your friends.

But really, I just haven't produced enough finished work to have a true sense of what makes my writing mine. If I could steal any one author's voice, it would without a doubt be Raymond Chandler's. One of my favorite books—possibly my all-time favorite—is Farewell, My Lovely. That thing is practically all voice, which might be off-putting to some. He devotes so much effort to establishing the atmosphere that it's easy to lose track of the plot, and the characters, and whose murder are we investigating again? Wait, that was a murder? I thought he just, ummmm—the only violent death I can remember was the nightclub owner who was in the wrong place at the wrong time...

So that would be my preferred voice. Neil Gaiman comes a close second. And in third—hmmm, I'll have to think about that one.

While my current (and previous) project is a fantasy, ideally I would like my writing to make reality feel fantastic, the way Farewell does. Chandler makes the real Southern California as mysterious and dramatic as, say, the Bladerunner Southern California. Of course, from a 21st-century perspective, one could just dismiss that as the effect of the passage of time. But I'm pretty sure that actual life in 1930s LA did not feel nearly as much like a dystopian scifi movie as one might hope.

Anyone out there have an idea of how to find one's voice?

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