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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's the Point?

OK. So, I am a child of the 60s and being a child of the 60s means that I grew up with flower children and hippies. I heard new songs from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones air on the radio. I wore bell bottoms and blue suede shoes. I had a shag haircut (and later a Dorothy Hamill haircut). I wore moccasins as shoes and I had an Indian fringe suede jacket and....

I know what The Point is.

The Point by Harry Nilsson was my favorite record to listen to when I was a kid. I knew all the words by heart and when I got a dog I felt was mine, truly mine, I named her Arrow. Then they made The Point into a cartoon narrated by none other then Ringo Starr. Oh, happy day!

I wanted to share with you, the wisdom of Rock Man and one of my favorite songs, Think About Your Troubles. Whose the boy's voice, you might wonder? Why that's Bobby from the Brady Bunch, of course!






Now what does this have to do with writing for children? What's my Point? Well, my point is two-fold. First, we authors come from a certain time and place. We grew up a certain way. We had certain experiences. And all of these things add up to our perspective on the world. They add up to our voice as a writer and that voice comes out of our MC's mouth.

This brings me to the second point. Our MCs come from a different time and place. S/He grew up in a different way. S/He had different experiences and therefore has a different perspective on the world.

How do we merge the two? My MC would certainly never have heard of Harry Nilsson's The Point. Many of you probably never have. But it shaped me. What shapes my MC? How do I have her voice and my voice? Well, you can disguise your voice as your MC's voice. That's one way to do it. But I think there's another way, a better way.

I like to have an adult in my story. An adult full of wisdom. And some of that wisdom is my wisdom. I can sound like an adult through this adult character and that is where my perspective can be heard.

It's still my MC's story. It's still her voice. And I need to know her perspective. What music shaped her? What philosophies color her world? What music from her generation will stand the test of time (or not). Pretend your MC is your own child. Let them have their own voice, but see if you can get a brush stroke in there every now and again that's yours.

And hey, whatever you do, no goofin' with the bees.

14 comments:

Susan R. Mills said...

Great post. I struggle with letting my adult voice slip in on my YA characters. I like your idea of channeling that voice through an adult character. I also love the idea of thinking of your mc as your own child. There can always be a part of us in her, but she needs her own voice.

Jeanie W said...

One of the things I do in revisions is clean my adult voice out of the mouths of my child characters. Once I had a ten year old speaking like a graduate student. Not exactly what you would call believable.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wonderful post! I had never heard that song or seen the cartoon!

Amy Tate said...

I love this post Sherri! It's so true that we write from our own experience and perspective and that's what makes us unique.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheri,
I remember seeing this years ago and really enjoyed it! Thanks for the memory!

Sheri said...

Thanks, Susan. Just like our own kids right - they are individuals but with a smidgeon of us in them.

Jeanie, good idea! I love this idea for the revision process.

It's one of my all time favorites, Kelly but I'm afraid (and not afraid) that it is very telling of my age and the time period I grew up in. My friend Renee and I used to love to say, "Ya been goofin' with the bees?" when we were up to no good.

Thanks, anonymous! I wish I knew who you are - a comrade of the 60s who remembers The Point... I need your mystery identification solved...

Sheri said...

Oh Amy, some how I missed your comment... Yes, it is both a blessing and a curse. We almost need to know it, so it doesn't poke it's older voice where it doesn't belong - namely in the mouths of babes.

Tom Bailey said...

You have an interesting blog. This is my first visit. I like your ideas and the way that you think. The quote at the top really caught my attention.

Sheri said...

Hi Tom. Welcome! And thank you for your interest and encouraging comments. I hope you make it a habit to stop by.

Barrie said...

What a good way to describe voice!

Sheri said...

Thanks, Barrie!

kathy Temean said...

Sheri,

Look at all th comments - Great! People love what you have to say - Good job! Now you should think of writing an article for Sprouts Magazine and let the editors find your voice.

Kathy

Sheri said...

Oh Kathy, I just love you! I truly do. That is not sarcasm. You've made me smile. And behind every successful person is at least one cheerleader, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sherri, You've come a long way with the blog since Toms River Retreat. So, did you achieve the goal and finish the novel in a month? It's pretty ambitious stuff. I finally got my web and blog up and running. Happy writing and keep in touch.
Darlene

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous