Voice Week 2011: Wednesday

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This is turning into quite a fascinating project – both into how what is written effects the reader’s perceptions of character, and how the reader’s own pre-existing bias figures in.

I tried a different angle with today’s piece:

When they ask, I tell them that my mother taught me everything I know. I say she taught me to love books by reading to me every night. I say she taught me to love music by singing me songs as she drove me to school. I say she taught me how to be a lady by never raising her voice, by never speaking a crass word, by never drinking more than half a glass of wine. But really, all she taught me was how to lie.

From the prompt “alcoholic mother.” Read the other versions: Day 1Day 2Day 4Day 5

Who does the character feel like to you? How old, what gender? Where did you think the voice was strong or weak? Let me know!

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.

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  1. Pingback: Voice Week 2011: Wednesday « BeKindRewrite « Voice Week HQ

  2. Wow, I really liked this. At first, I thought this young person was looking on the bright side, and just choosing to remember the best of Mom. The last line was a real punch in the gut.

  3. This smart girl has grown quite resentful of her mother, though somehow she’s managed to handle herself pretty well–at least in front of others. Her pain and wishful thinking as she lists all the things she pretends to have been taught her by her mom, are evident and piercing.

  4. Ahahahaha. Fabulous! Most inspired and inspiring. The voice is so strong and clear that I don’t think I need to say another thing.

  5. Another great piece of writing. I see this character as a third sibling in this dysfunctional family. She is an older sister, maybe mid-twenties. There is almost a resigned tone to her voice as if she knows what reality is but prefers to tell her friends something different. I get the impression she has moved out and moved on. With her new circle of friends she has to have a mother who does all the right things so she lies. She talks about the mother she didn’t have.
    Looking forward to tomorrow.

  6. Oh snap! So does this mean she’s an alcoholic too? Because I had that inkling for some reason.

  7. Definitely older than the others, a little wiser, she’s given up on anything to do with her mom. To her, mom is a term that only means being fake to friends. Maybe she’s inherited Mom’s faults of alcoholism and the distant, aloofness she’s learned from years of watching Mom. She’s bitter, ready for a scrap but just as ready to avoid it with a lie.

    I’m so sad that voice week had to be this week. Since Monday I haven’t had a time where my family or I was’t booked. Anyway, I’m jealous of you guys being able to do all these awesome pieces!

  8. I think this is an older sibling, Perhaps old enough to be ready to leave the house or has only left the house recently. I think it is a female again.

  9. BANG! What a great twist at the end. Sounds like a young woman, mature and confident of herself, which is good, because it means she recovered from the difficult experiences of growing up with an alcoholic mother. It could be an interesting character flaw… how much lying does she do?

    • Thanks! I’ve been toying around with the idea of writing a book from the perspective of a narrator who lies all the time–the object for the reader would be to figure out the truth. Think it would work?

  10. Fantastic closing line – really sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading. Brilliant stuff! 🙂

  11. Pingback: Voice Week 2011: Thursday « BeKindRewrite

  12. I knew this character was grown and gone before I read your comment. She can see things clearly now that she’s no longer in the midst of things. I do have to say that I think her mother’s teachings were quite effective.

  13. Sorry I missed you in my rounds on Thurs..Is your sitemissing from the righthand menu on the Voice home page?

    Anyway, love this character’s voice, a woman who lives conventions and seethes.


  14. Female, could be twenties, but possible an older teen, wise beyond her years.

  15. This feels like a confession. It’s awesome!

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