Monday, March 05, 2007

How to Wake Your Playful Writing Voice

A fellow writer who reads this blog, wrote an e-mail to Rebecca Jane asking how to develop a sense of playfulness in prose.

Here’s a possible response to that question, written, of course, in the form of flash fiction:

Kristin Linklater teaches an acting class at Columbia University called Shakespeare and the Modern Voice. She guides students through exercises to strengthen the power of the human voice. In her class, students speak long ooooo vowels that roll up from the pelvic floor. Also, she guides, feel the consonant “B” bounce around in the head until “B” takes over the speaker’s lips. Visualization is an important part of the exercises because a vision triggers a subtle thought/feeling impulse that inspires the breath; so, vowels have colors: O is dark blue; AW is scarlet; EY is pink. Linklater encourages students to work on more than merely beatifying the pronunciation of vowels and consonants; instead, a speaker should use the liberating vocal exercises as a type of “consciousness-raising” activity. The ultimate goal is to be able to read aloud the Shakespearean sonnets with the same urgency as the Bard wrote them.

Dharma Mittra teaches a Psychic Development Meditation class at the Dharma Mittra Yoga Center on 3rd Avenue and 23rd street. He guides students through repetitions of sounds with the voice that are supposed to correspond to the different “Chakras,” or imaginary energy spinning wheels in the body. While the voice releases different sounds, the yogi is supposed to contemplate different colors: red, orange, yellow, green/pink, light blue, indigo, and violet/white. According to the yogis, stimulating the charkas in this way is supposed to promote life force.

So the Scribble Bitch Writers Group decided to enroll in both the Shakespeare seminar and the Psychic Development class. This group of three roguish writing women realized that actors and yogis use similar methods/exercises, just packaged ‘em differently, to boost their energy. To the degree that there is harmonious agreement between the acting warm-ups and yogi’s meditation, the Scribble Bitch Writers Group embraces the shared ideas and applies them to their Writing Practice. Frequency, vibration, symbol, and color—no doubt—have as much a subtle influence on the Writing Voice as they do on the actor’s stage presence or the yogi’s spiritual balance. If you don’t believe the Scribble Bitch Writers Club, check out the recent conversation about Music and Writing featured at Metaxu Café.

Bonus material: Below is a weird writing prompt.

Read the nonsense words while standing up. Allow the vibrations of the sounds of the vowels and consonants to move through every limb of your body. The vibrations will urge your body to move. Follow those urges. You will find yourself moving around to the sounds while you speak this nonsense.


Then sit down and go ahead and write a piece of flash fiction. The exercise will have a subtle impact on your Writing Voice. Promise! It'll move your mind!

This exercise reminded the members of the Scribble Bitch Writers Group that they frequently attend poetry readings after which they felt the reader could have been more animated. They agree that some monotone poetry readers they have heard could benefit from adding a little thought/feeling to their breath and speaking voice. Or else at the local poet’s read-aloud, they might try turning those ol’ Chakras to the Spin Cycle.


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