Today, I went to a session at the Fiction Workshop that was open to the public at the University of Guelph. I attended, Finding Your Voice, a three hour workshop led by Kathy Friedman.
We discussed the different ways that someone can explore and evolve their voice, through picking a subject, reflecting yourself in your writing, and trying to find ways to figure out both your audience, and your narrator. I had a great time at the session and got to do some writing exercises, so I’m going to post the results here for you all to read, and enjoy.
Voice Experiments: Exercise #2
Write a scene at a party from the perspective of a person in love waiting for his or her spouse to arrive. Do not mention the spouse. Then write the same scene from the perspective of a person who is trying to quit smoking. Do not mention smoking.
Try to change the style you use in each scene. Including word choice, sentence length, tone, and point of view. Remember that what people fail to observe ca be as revelatory as what they do notice.
Trays of food, some empty, and others not, were slowly packed up. The music was shut off, and Helen found herself smiling at the hosts as they continued to shuffle about, cleaning the garbage, and returning their house to its original, pristine state.
“Are you sure you don’t want any help with anything?” She said, hoping for a distraction.
John, the owner of the house, waved her off. “No, we are doing fine.”
Helen looked out the window. Headlights shone back, and her heart skipped a beat. For a moment, she perked up, before realizing it was just an ambulance rushing by. She couldn’t help but tap her feet. Her heavy boots created a dull thud as they tapped against the large rectangular mat, with its bright red, “welcome home” text. Echoes of the fight from the previous evening still lingered in her mind.
“We could drive you home.” John’s wife, Sarah, shouted from the kitchen, as she threw a pile of dishes in the sink.
“No, it’ll be fine, I’m sure.”
“He knows you are here, right?” Sarah said walking towards Helen, her arms now empty.
“Was that an ambulance?”
I grabbed the garbage scattered around my house. I couldn’t wait until everyone had left. My hands continually shook, no matter what I did. Tearing into my nails with my teeth only seemed to remind me of what was missing from my mouth.
My mind tried to convince me that I was causing myself pain and anguish for nothing. I tried to push through, providing myself with positive affirmations. Unfortunately, my imagination, my addicted self, was just as intelligent and creative.
Each thought that I tried to focus on was ripped away with a negative slant. I couldn’t find anything that would make me feel better, and everything around me reminded me of what I was missing out on.
“This is all going to work out.” I tried to focus on the positive reason for my change. “Think of the money you’ll save.”
“You fool, you were happier, more productive. Remember how you used to feel?” My addicted self replied.
“I won’t stink anymore. I won’t have to go outside in the cold anymore.”
“You’ll miss out on all the conversations between your co-workers. You only got your raise because you knew what was happening in your department.”
“I’ll live longer.”
“You’ll enjoy that longer life less.”
“I’ll be healthier.”
“I’m sure you are giving yourself so many more years with that weight you’ve gained.”
On and on it went, the cycle was so exhausting, so infuriating. I just wanted to give in.