Getting out of bed this morning was hard for a reason...
Anybody else just love Game of Thrones?
Our lecturer has decided to push all the weeks back one seeing as we missed out on the lecture last week and had an extra week at the end of the semester. So while it is the 8th week of classes, today we completed week 7's lecture and tutorial.
Who: Audience and Voice
Readings for week 7 were Rich chocolate cake á la Irvine Welsh by Mark Crick (pages 20-28), Everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (pages 1-7), Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates (pages 1, 3-5, 7, 9-25) and The white tiger by Aravind Adiga (pages 3-42).
When we talk about 'voice' in writing, we're talking about that thing about a piece that makes it seem alive; the thing that seduces us to keep reading and/or writing it. Having a good voice is what will stop the reader from putting the book down and never giving it a second glance, and it is what stops the writer from getting bored of a project they've started.
The difference between voice and style can be hard to distinguish, mostly because they reflect on and feed off each other. My lecturer believes that style can be imitated, but voice can not. My tutorial group discussed the difference after the lecture and my tutor asked us to consider a few things: Does the writer's style change or stay the same over different pieces they write? Does each separate piece have it's own unique voice? Is it possible for writer's to have more than one voice? My tutor agreed that style could be mimicked, but questioned whether or not the same could be said for voice. Personally, I think that each piece has a unique voice that can't be replicated, and that writers might have multiple styles and voices.
An audience for writers are their readers, but each writer has a different set of readers or person they are aiming to please when they write. With a little bit of practice, it can become quite easy to automatically adjust our language or our 'voice' for whoever our readers are. After all, audience has a crucial effect on how we write. While we all automatically write for an audience, it is not always clear in the first instance who that audience is. Although some writers are super-ultra-organized and plan out everything about their next project to a T, many do not and when the urge to start writing strikes, a lot of people will go for it without considering who we are writing for.
Who do you write for?
We brainstormed some possible answers in the lecture and tutorial. While the obvious answers of "teenagers", "young adults", "my best friend", "my mother" or "myself" came up, there were some more interesting contributions. Our lecturer suggested that sometimes we write for someone who once strongly praised us or someone who once harshly criticized us. Or in the case of 'anxiety of influence', some of us feel that we are writing for the whole of literary history, with the weight of all the other awesome authors who came before us resting on our shoulders as they peer at the pages before us and tut quietly under their breaths, shaking their heads... or whispering encouragement to us from beyond the grave. They can't ALL be mean and filled with superiority.
The final thing we touched on in the lecture was 'Audience as the addressee of your narrative'; a technique in which we mobilize the notion of an audience to produce a particular effect in terms of voice, by letting your narrator talk to/write to/complain to/fantasize to etc... a particular person.
My tutor left us on a note of caution: Don't try to please EVERYBODY when you write. You can't write for EVERYBODY at the same time. Pick your age group, gender, or whatever demographic makes up your target audience and aim to please them before anybody else. Otherwise you'll just turn into a hopeless too-far-stretched mess trying to please too many people and most likely not succeeding.
Who do you write for? Do you think you have a style of your own yet, or are you still finding it? Do you think each of your individual pieces of writing has its own voice?