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Scott Lax Blog

Truman Capote on Voice

Truman Capote said to the "Paris Review," "What I am trying to achieve is a voice sitting by a fireplace telling you a story on a winter’s evening." I may have quoted this before, but I think it bears repeating.

When you tell a story, pretend you're with people you care about. You want to impart to them the story that it's your heart, the story you need to tell. Let the words come out naturally. Forget about style, and even craft (at least on the first draft), and all the junk you learned in your writing class, be that in high school (likely freighted with the desire to please your unpublished teacher), or in college - even in an MFA program, where you're pressured to sound like so many others.

Tell your story in your own voice. Learn grammar and style and usage and then fix it up and let it fly. It's your story; don't let it be sunk by literary fashions. Capote knew this; that's why he was one of the greats, however screwed up and inconsistent he could be. The cat knew how to write.  Read More