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How to Restore a Character’s Voice When They Develop Laryngitis

[1]You’re writing a novel and it’s going well. Your characters are solid, enfleshed, more real to you than yourself on many days. And this is great, because writing is easier when you’re like that celery stalk in third grade – the one stuck in a beaker of blue ink for lessons in osmosis. Story runs through your veins, into all extremities. If sliced open, what seeps from you would contain characters, setting, and theme.

Then Life happens. You have a family crisis, a case of the nerves, get sucked under by a work tsunami. Whatever the cause, on the day you return to the page you cannot connect with your fictional world.

This was me some time ago. I’d reread my book and background materials. Despite intellectual understanding of my characters’ motivations and conflicts, I couldn’t enter their emotional space. As a consequence, the tone was off in everything I wrote. (Imagine channeling Jerry Lewis in a moment of tender reunion.) That made for countless false starts and mounting concern when silent days turned into silent months.

When I canvassed writing friends for solutions, the news wasn’t encouraging. Virtually all had manuscript graveyards with 50,000-plus-word corpses. Almost none had been able to resuscitate a novel once it fell silent.

Fortunately, though it took a while, I found my way back into that book. In case there are a few of you who might benefit, here are a few ways you might reconnect emotionally with your work.

A few points first:

Not sure which kind of learning style you prefer? Examine your Twitter, Facebook or blog conversations for these patterns:


Visual Learners

Of Pinterest and Visionboards [4] by Justine Musk

Pin This [5] by Liz Michalski

3 Ways to Use Pinterest for Book Publicity [6] by Crystal Patriarche here on WU

Picture This: Collage as Prewriting and Inspiration [7]

Alison Does Great Collage [8]

The Three Goddesses Chat Book Collages [9]

Auditory Learners

Kinesthetic / Whole Body Learners

Other Helpful Resources

How about you, peeps? Have you rescued characters who’ve gone mute? Know of any other techniques to cue emotional memory and dive into one’s fictive world? Please contribute to my repertoire. 

“I’m not dead yet” courtesy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

About Jan O'Hara [13]

A former family physician and academic, Jan O'Hara [14] left the world of medicine behind to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. She writes love stories that zoom from wackadoodle to heartfelt in six seconds flat: (Opposite of Frozen [15]; Cold and Hottie [16]; Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures [17]). She also contributed to Author in Progress, a Writer's Digest Book edited by Therese Walsh.