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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Let me show you this great video I took on my trip…

alligatorWe’re stuck,” Air­boat Man said.

Stuck: three peo­ple, on an air­boat, near­ing sun­down, with noth­ing but swamp and alli­ga­tors for miles.

Here’s the deal. I could tell you this sto­ry sev­er­al dif­fer­ent ways and remain truth­ful.  I could make it seem scary, or adven­tur­ous, or even per­vert­ed. But being me, I’m going to tell you what I hope is the “fun­ny” ver­sion:

You two stand down on the edge there and bounce.” Air­boat Man point­ed to the low­er por­tion of the air­boat. “That should jar us loose.”

BFF and I glanced dubi­ous­ly at each oth­er. Was this how Air­boat Man got his kicks? By drag­ging zaftig, out- of-state females deep into the lone­ly swamp, where he manip­u­lat­ed a set of dia­bol­i­cal­ly evil cir­cum­stances so that he could force them to—bounce?

It’s the only way,” Air­boat Man said.

So we bounced. Sure enough, we got unstuck. Air­boat Man looked amused.

I won­der if that Japan­ese film crew over there got videos of ya’ll bounc­ing,” he said.

Indeed, while we had been busy bounc­ing, anoth­er air­boat had appeared behind us.  They had pulled close enough that I assume you could google the phrase, “Large Amer­i­can women bounce on air­boat” (if you knew enough Japan­ese), and you’d get an up-close-and-per­son­al of our bounc­ing back ends.

So what does this tell you about writ­ing? I’ve talked before about how dif­fi­cult it is to help young writ­ers under­stand the term “voice.” Voice is the dis­tinc­tive way that each writer acts as a filter for how the read­er expe­ri­ences a sto­ry. If BFF or Air­boat Man want­ed to write about this same event, they would do so using a dif­fer­ent voice—and it might sound like a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry.

Why not ask all of your stu­dents to write about an adven­ture you have shared togeth­er?  Then have them each read their work out loud, so the group can hear dif­fer­ent voic­es relat­ing the same experience—and begin to learn by com­par­i­son what is unique about their own voice.

Devel­op­ing your voice as a writer is a lit­tle like bounc­ing to “un-stick” an air­boat.  At first, the whole con­cept sounds pret­ty sus­pect. But once you give it a try, you find out it works. In fact, some writ­ers are able to devel­op such dis­tinc­tive voic­es, they become famous enough to google.

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