To Kill A Mockingbird: A Writer’s Lesson for Finding Your Honest Voice

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Scout is a character that I identify with, probably because, during my childhood, I also didn’t have a desire to do those “girly” things like play with dolls and hold tea parties. I mean, I too had the no-nonsense, curious, and “I just wanna be outside with the boys” attitude. Though she’s young, Scout’s a tough girl – tough enough to wind her way into the hearts of adult readers. This was the first time I’ve actually read To Kill A Mockingbird and I’m going to be honest, I had always thought the novel was meant for teen readers and not so much for us readers in the adult realm. Scout proved me wrong.

It’s very difficult to write a story from a child’s perspective and make it appeal to adults, but Harper Lee seemed to achieve the impossible. Not only does Scout win over readers who are beyond her years, she manages to tell a story riddled with hate, racism, and sexism through a child’s eyes, but with an adult’s understanding. That’s hard to do.

In writing, I believe that we writers need to sometimes drop ourselves; drop all opinions, thoughts, and all notions that we have of ourselves and the world around us that society and culture has shaped, and instead tap into the children that we once were. We need to go back to the beginning to reclaim a voice that has gotten lost. To Kill A Mockingbird is an extraordinary novel in part because it does achieve the amazing feat of an adult writer who once more taps into the innocence of a child’s point of view and essentially weaves a tale about the loss of this innocence through a growing understanding of the world. As stated by Harper Lee, a writer “should write about what he knows and write truthfully” and this is universal knowledge amongst writers, but, perhaps to write what we really know; to truly write from a fresh perspective, we do need to become children once more.

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