Halloween is around the corner, and like any other day that is centered around drinking, I am excited. Halloween is one of the few holidays where your friends and family will excuse you for acting like an ass, solely on the principle that you were just in the holiday spirit.

It is also the only holiday wherein it is expected that you will act like somebody completely different than your usual self.

The thought of putting on a mask and speaking in an accent for an entire night strikes a similar chord as writing fiction. As Fiction Writers, pretending to be someone else becomes habit. I always hear that as storytellers, we are suppose to “write what we know,” which is true to a base degree, but not a rule to live by. The trick is that in order to know a story well enough to tell it, we have to deceive ourselves into believing we lived it. This takes an insane amount of research and time, but it is worth it.

The difference for me is between those of us who plan our costumes out, months in advance, and those who finish the costume up hours before the party. There is also the notion of dedication. When you go out for Halloween, do you take on the accent and mannerisms of your character, or do you merely wear crazy clothes but maintain your same voice?

As a Fiction Writer, I often finds myself on the verge of schizophrenia due to the many characters and voices I am creating. It takes a lot to get into the swing of a character’s voice. It has especially been difficult writing the novel. I follow several different characters and change the voice with every chapter. This means that I am usually writing for a new character every week or so. It seems like  every time I start to get into a character’s voice, I finish the chapter and have to move on.

I started listening to music every time I sit down and write for the novel. What I listen to depends on what character I am writing for that day. One character likes jazz. On those days, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis make up my soundtrack. Another character likes classic rock and folk. When I write for her, I listen to Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, and the Eagles (of whom she is especially fond). I also have a character who loves hip hop. These days are fun, because I listen to Mos Def, Atmosphere, and Jay-Z.

I am at the point that when I hear Miles Davis purse his lips to blare on his horn, I know what voice to write in.

I normally do not listen to music while I write, because I can find it distracting. (The novel seems to be a special case, and I’m not sure why that is.) This means that I have to form other ways to prepare for writing in a certain voice.

If I am coming into a story that I have already written the first half of, I always reread that first half. I believe this helps freshen my memory as to who this character is and what it is they do. I used to find books that had similar characters to what I wanted to write, and I would read those books before I wrote. But I stopped that, for I am now too paranoid that the other author’s voice will take over my own. I had a professor who divulged that when he sat down to write a novel he would subscribe to all of the magazines he thought his characters would have subscriptions to. I think this is an interesting idea but have yet to implement it.

I have learned that, as is the same with Halloween costumes, it is always best to just completely throw myself into the story. Thus ensuring that I get all of the mannerisms, gesticulations, tones, voices, emotions just right. Halloween and Fiction Writing are centered around escaping for both the one wearing the costume (the Writer) and the viewer (the Reader). So whatever it takes to make the illusion real, to make your creation seem like an apparition, do it wholeheartedly.