We had another great HighlandLIT event last night. Kirstin Innes, Arts PR guru, literary cabaret performer, journalist, short story writer and novelist spoke to us about making the words on the page live. Try reading what you write aloud, she suggested, sharing a favourite quotation: ‘if it’s dead in your mouth, it’s dead on the page.’
Specifically, she talked about capturing in your writing the language and speech-rhythms used by your characters. When she’s on public transport, Kirstin told us, she often listens to the conversations around her, noting rhythm and cadence, what is said, what is left unsaid. This research is invaluable when it comes to helping your characters express themselves – and once you have given them voice, she said, they tell you things you might not have expected.
And then, in a bravura performance, she read from her deeply-researched novel Fishnet. The passage she chose described a sex workers’ union meeting, at which a Council representative was speaking. Kirstin incarnated her colourful characters before us – a testimony both to her skill as a performer, and to the perfection with which she had captured their voices on the page.
And then, after a break during which we enjoyed refreshments, we enjoyed a festive Slam. Eight of us read – we heard poems, short stories, a piece of travel writing and extracts from a memoir.
A great evening, and a suitable end to a great year for HighlandLIT.
(The photos are of Paul Shanks, Chair of HighlandLIT, and Kirstin Innes)