December 19, 2008

Question For YOU

First off, if you’re a writer and you’re still looking for your ‘voice’. . . STOP!

In response to the question posed in my last blog post, some of my favorite authors, editors and agents generously offered their thoughts on what it takes to develop that essential yet elusive element called author voice. Do yourself a favor and read their comments.

So all this excellent advice has motivated me to get Down and Dirty and really WRITE. Allow what I’ve learned so far to gel, while tossing off the gloves and throwing all sorts of gutsy, inelegant punches.

“So, Camille,” you say, checking your watch. “Did you say you had a question?”

Yeah, I do. I’ve been brainstorming to create a new storyworld, new plot, characters and conflicts for my next novel. But after 10 pages of rambling, it became clear that I have TWO novels. One involves immigrants and would take place in a Depression era setting—a time, people and way of life completely foreign to me requiring MAJOR steepage into research, and the other—a contemporary story set in a fictional town I already know very well featuring a sharp-tongued heroine with a chip on her shoulder. And a growling Fat Boy.

“So, what—you’re saying she’s like YOU?”

Aw, look at you, keeping right up. No. Let’s get one thing clear. I do NOT resemble that chick in any way.

But let’s just say I did. I wonder which story idea would allow me the freedom to write with abandon? The one that would require me to constantly think about idioms, social perceptions, customs both American and of the immigrants, attitudes, lifestyle, and the natural rigors of daily life? Or the story that flows freely and requires no interruption to check every word and every move for accuracy?

“So,” you say with a taut little nod, “you want help deciding which of these stories to work on next?”

Your lips look really tight right now, by the way. Makes you look like a muppet.

I guess if I’m going to ask for help deciding which story to write, I should first state my goal. And I’d do that if I knew what IT was.

Is my goal to work on a story that will give me the freedom to write with abandon and develop my voice? Or is my goal to lay down an intriguing storyworld and build a drama/suspense that reads like a killer box-office hit movie? Which project should I commit to for the next year? Which one is most worth my time and energy?

And not to be forgotten is that most important voice, that of the Master. The Psalmist said, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

Yes. Absolutely right. But I’d like to know: is the Lord a Pantser or Plotter??


Jessica Nelson said...

Great question! Hmmm, I think he was a pantser and then had to revise and become a plotter after hero Adam did some unlikely things. LOL
Cute post! I can't wait to see what you choose. I def. think contemporary is easier to write. I tried a historical. Snort. It's not that "historical".
Anyways, sub both first chapters and I'll tell you which I like better!
Have a great weekend!

Miralee Ferrell said...

I vote for writing what flows easily, and pulls at your heart. Getting caught up & bogged down in too many fine details when you don't feel confident that you've developed your voice, might be tough. After you've cranked out a couple of books that really flow, you could go back to the intense research one...and I'm betting you'll find it ten times easier. Just my quick take on it, but that's the way I'd go. Enjoyed your post by the way. You're doing a nice job!

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I'm soooo a I say write what has your heart. If during that project the other one tugs at you, start a rough one of that project in the middle.

I'm a mind mapper. I have THREE novel ideas mapped. but that's as far as I go. It's random, lots of ideas, questions, stemming from the main one in the middle of the map.

So, as the ideas come, I just pluck away at it.

God, he's a plotter, in my opinion. He knew Adam would fall already...He knows it all...but that's just my two cents worth.

Dal Jeanis said...

I'd suggest, "do that which allows you to concentrate most on story, and stop concentrating on mechanics and worldbuilding."

That way will you find your voice.



I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.