If you’ve ever gone hunting for advice on finding your writing voice, your brain is undoubtedly tuckered out. Many tips are vague at best and confusing or contradictory at worst. Some claim that voice develops over time. But that leaves you wondering when it will appear to you in a poof of smoke. Others treat it like a supernatural gift that some writers have and others don’t. So helpful, right?
It’s interesting, isn’t it? How teachers often tell us that any question is a bright question, and a good question’s only job is to be asked. But kindergarten was sixteen years ago, and my teachers don’t say this anymore. We stopped talking about questions a long time ago.
Every human perspective has value, but some are second nature to writers while others are more unfamiliar and intimidating to explore. That isn’t an excuse to exclude characters who are in different life stages than us, however. As Christian storytellers, our goal is to represent the full spectrum of the human experience, no matter how tricky it can be.
I took a walk among the forest pines to be alone, away from all mankind, to listen to the sound of nothingness, and leave my doubts and worries far behind. As I wandered beneath a maple maid, I breathed into my lungs the virgin air, unspoiled as of yet, and ripe with scents of spicy hemlock with a piney flair.
My son is a skilled storyteller. He has notebooks and online files bursting with magic and mystery. When he visits, I often sit like a child at his feet and beg him to read his latest chapter. He always indulges me, settling into his deep narrator voice. When he stops, I pry him for sneak peeks at what’s ahead because, like a soap opera, I long for the next part of the adventure.
I’ve noticed a growing and concerning trend among writers when they’re developing a cast of characters. In an effort to make a protagonist memorable, they slap on a unique, edgy, and complex moniker and call it a day. The conviction that names carry more significance than just a pretty string of letters has been lost.
When we get too desperate to make an impact, we risk building messages without biblical foundations. We’ll preach against conventional wisdom simply to set off debates in readers’ minds. But opposing current trends doesn’t automatically transform us into revolutionaries. When we revolve a story around unpopular ideas, we’re playing hit or miss with the truth. A compelling message requires more than going against the grain.