Friday, November 03, 2006

Advice for NaNoWriMo Participants: Thrive!
And Maybe Find Your Real Writer's Voice

Chica Lit's Mary Castillo --who carries one of my fave last names, sooooooo good for a fantasy lover like me, since it means "castle"--has advice on how to thrive through this NaNo Challenge. Emphases mine:

1. Write in the voice that God gave you. Forget about grammatically correct sentences that would please your seventh grade English teacher (it worked for Dalton Trumbo). Forget about writing the Great American Novel (there is no such thing). But how do you know what your own voice sounds like? Well if you had a really juicy bit of gossip, how would you write it in email?

2. It's not about writing about what will be good enough to sell; it's about getting under the skin of your characters and finding out what they'll do next. Trust me, the cool thing about being an unpublished author is that no one has any expectations. You don't have to worry about deadlines, what your agent or editor will think, orders and sales numbers. You have complete creative freedom. I'm grateful for my success and all the challenges that come with it. But I'm telling ya, enjoy the freedom while it lasts.

I need to chill out with the editing and quit stopping to fix every other sentence. Yeah, that's why I still am a bit behind in count. Well, 700 or so words behind. Dang.

And, ya know, I think that's good advice for anyone just trying to get into a story who isn't sure what the story is yet. Just throw it out there in as authentic a "you" voice as you can.

Problem with my voice is that it's...a two-faced thing. Maybe, it's a two-vocal-cord thing. Notice my blog entries. If you scroll through the months in the archive, you notice that I blend a more formal (dare I say, eloquent?) tone with a more "chica hip" tone. Both are me. (Both are I?) I'm the ghetto girl who done real good in school. I'm that immigrant-baby who got a scholarship to study Polit-Sci/Journalism/English. I can knock out formal essays that knock off the prof's socks and Birkenstocks.

That's me. If I only wrote with one part? Not me. But sometimes, a story needs a more consistent tone, yeah?

So, there you are. I'm a little MPD in the voice department.

Well, whatever. We'll see what the thing looks like come December 1 and figure out how to revise THEN.

A question: What's your voice sound like?

Do you take on an alter ego when you write that's thesaurusally proficient and maybe stilted? Do you try to sound breezier than you are? Or do you cover up your melancholy? Are you just angry and angrier and angriest, but you write polite and subdued? Do you regularly coin hilarious neologisms for your pals, but never for your characters? Come on, tell me, do you write the way you blog? And if you do, do you blog in your voice, or are you afraid to? If you don't let yourself shine on your blog, look, as Mary says, at your emails. Look at your forum or yahoogroup posts, when it's just you and your chums yapping and you forget to self-censor (if you ever do)?

You're probably seeing your own voice written there, peops.

How's it sound?


Valerie Comer said...

Heh. But not every novel requires the same voice. The first person YA fantasy is definitely not the same as last year's nano, an inspirational romance--or maybe not so inspirational, being as I haven't looked at it since. The characters of each aren't cookie-cuttered, so the story voice shouldn't be either.

Still, I tend to believe that my own voice shines through the various styles. Scary thought, that...

Carol Collett said...

Do I write the way I blog? Unfortunately, yeah-both are not prolific enough! :)

Chill Daddy said...

Hi Martika, I'm a fellow nanowrimo blogger, and I'm still experimenting with my voice. I've written several YA novels, but each of them sounds like its being told by a different person.

Like the blog, I'll try to come back.