“We’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.