Finding the Words

a blog devoted to the art, craft, and frustration of writing

I lost my voice! September 12, 2007

Filed under: writing — itsy @ 6:59 pm

I suppose this is the danger of working on multiple stories at once? I’d been working on draft in first person POV–what drew me to the story was the character’s voice, which I heard as if she were whispering in my ear. I put the draft on hold for a bit because I’d reached a roadblock. Now I’ve cleared the roadblock, plotted a course using an outline, but when I sit down to write, the voice is gone! Will she come back? I certainly hope so.

I blame this on the outline. I’ve started using outlines because several people recommended doing so, and because writing without one can be done, but it takes a terribly long time.  And there’s a lot of heartache and anguish involved. But with an outline, I just can’t feel my characters the same way. We’re not discovering their story together; I’ve already told them where to go.  A large part of the reason a particular plot works or not is because of how it’s written; when I outline, I’m not taking that into account.

I’m sure there’s a happy medium, somewhere, somehow. Its just a matter of finding it, maybe loosening my grip on the outline.

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6 Responses to “I lost my voice!”

  1. writinggb Says:

    Yes, I’d say the outline is a tool like any other tool. When it is helping you achieve what you want, great, and when it isn’t, dump it. You can always write another outline if you get stuck again.

    Why not consult with your characters about your proposed outline? Perhaps, open a new page and write a dialogue between you and them — nothing that goes in the story but just for fun. Propose things that you are thinking will happen, and then see how the characters respond. Maybe they can tell you where the outline is curbing their enthusiasm….

  2. Cmate Says:

    I’ll say… a guideline is just a guideline.

    I have a guideline and I realised if I write following it too tightly, the story loses its excitement. So what happens is, I use the guideline only when I am lost and unsure of the next step of the story.

    Most of the time I started of writing in direction A, only to realise as we get involved with the characters, we go to directions like B, C or even D, and it’s amazing how far we may go.

    Let the characters lead you when they can, and let the guideline guides you when you lose that voice.

  3. elizabeth Says:

    I’m with you on the outlines. I find they tend to suck the life out of my writing. But: I realized that “outline” means different things to different people. I do not need to actually write out an old-school I,II,III, a, b, c type of outline, but I do (sometimes subconsciously) build a loose one in my head as I am writing. I just keep that structure in the back of my mind while I’m writing so I know where to go, but I don’t feel so tied to it, or bored by following it.

  4. deano Says:

    Perhaps she is coy around the inner manly writer you’re flirting with? You may need to mediate, over coffee. ;~>

  5. itsy Says:

    Ah, Deano, you might be on to something there!

  6. jadepark Says:

    I agre with everyone! An outline is a foundation off which to jump–at a certain point your characters’ personalities will come to life (much like babies growing into children growing into teenagers into adults) and perhaps rebel from the outline (much like how children and teenagers rebel from their parents). If this is happening, that perfect. You have done your job, you have raised your characters. 🙂


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