Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Writing How I Talk

One of the first things I hear from people who both know me and have read my writing is, "I can tell it's you," or "That sounds just like you." I'll admit, I have a distinctive way of speaking. It's a strange mixture of regional culture, family culture, and 5+ years in an industry where I hear a little bit of everything. My friends and I have sayings adapted from television or movies, twisted and turned and spun around until they're absolutely our own. My verbal quirks are theirs, and visa versa, which has a lot to do with how I write.

Every writer has a voice--I think we can agree with this, even if we may not like a writer's voice. In the same way, I'm inclined to believe that every generation has their own voice. By no means do I talk in the same way that my mother does, or the same way that my grandmother did. My sister and I, even though we're only three years apart in age, have a slightly different way of speaking as well. Not really word usage, or sentence structure, or anything so technical as that, but more sayings, phrases, and attitude.

So when I write about a character in the same generation as myself, give or take a few years, it's not surprising that the character, whoever they are, sounds like myself and my friends. It helps that I tend to stay in one region, because I'll admit, I have no idea how people, in say, Seattle or New York City converse. I'm going to go with the assumption that they don't talk about things like cow-tipping (no, I myself have not done it--but I know people). But where I come from, you're just as likely to hear about the latest political scandal as you are to hear about the latest high school football scores, usually in the same breath.

Is it easier? Sometimes. But sometimes it's harder, too. But then, that's almost everything about writing. Sometimes the easiest things are also the hardest--one of the reasons I love my work.

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