When I begin to write a new story, regardless of what age range I am aiming for, there’s a voice I hear as I jot down the words.
Sometimes the voice is loud and clear and other times it whispers before disappearing from my mind until I work my way through each chapter. When the voice stays with me for long periods of time I know I’ve finally found what I’m looking for. My main character has arrived. They have found their place within the lines on my page and they are asserting their authority with dialect and humour and everything else they need to get their point across.
Once I’ve finished my first draft I leave it alone for a few weeks. I like to think it’s getting a holiday from my brain and all the ‘what ifs’ I throw its way as I wade through the first inkling of a plot.
Once rested and dusted off, my story and I haven’t seen each other for a while. It’s like an old friend. We just pick up where we left off and hope that we don’t fall out or go in a huff with each other when I change things about or delete an unnecessary character.
My latest story has a character who is 11. So I do what all fledgling writers do, I tap my heels three times and wish I was that age all over again (I don’t really as that’s the calm before the teenage hormone storm and no-one wants to go back there, do they!) I only wish I was 11 again so that the conversations I need my characters to have, are genuine and authentic.
I can only pass it on to those of that age once it’s ready to share and see what they say. I compare that part of the process to waiting in the queue on parents night, a short revelation of what’s good and what ‘needs to be worked on’ from those in know.
I want the quiet but firm voices that make a reader hold their breath as they read through a tension-filled scene or the robust, theatrical voices that sing as they bounce about the page turns. Dramatic, inviting and unforgettable. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway. Only time will tell if I’ve achieved that or not.
Voices need to be heard but only if they are the right ones for my story. The right tone and sentiment to bring my characters to life – snotty noses and all.