Finding your pink and purple spotted horse

Chapter 11 of Writing Feature Stories discusses when it is appropriate for a journalist to put him or herself into a story.  I think the book puts it very well by suggesting the writer ask himself- will my presence improve the story? I agree with the chapter’s point that good writing is not just choosing the right words, but developing a style. I think the more a person writes, the more that person begins to develop their own style and the more defined the style, the more it adds to the story. I like the quote by Hence White, “To achieve style, begin by affecting none..”

I particularly enjoyed reading the section on voice in Part V of Telling True Stories. I absolutely love Susan Orlean’s juxtaposition of developing a writer’s voice with children’s process of painting. Children are often way more creative at painting than adults are. A child may paint a picture of a pink and purple spotted horse because children have less of a sense of how things should or should not look according to the real world. Orlean said writing is the same; developing a writer’s voice involves getting in touch with that child-like emotional authenticity. I think Orlean is dead on with this point. You can’t invent a voice, so taking a true look at yourself, how you would speak to your friends in everyday conversation or how you would tell a story at the dinner table, will help you discover your own voice as opposed to forcing a voice that you think you should have.

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