Saturday, August 9, 2008

Developing a writing "voice"

My writing progress this summer has been better than other summers, which isn't hard, since I usually don't write ANYTHING during the summer. Too busy. It has been a busy summer (swim lessons, family reunion in Minnesota, Blaze's birthday party - 12 little girls all wanting to ride a hrose at the same time!) but somehow I manage to keep ekeing out an average of a few hundred words a week. My obsession this year has been on developing voice for my characters - earlier this spring I think I finally made a breakthrough with Arrasin and Selty. But I have some other major characters I needed to develop a stronger voice with, Tara, for certain.

Whenever I seem to draw a blank I retreat to re-reading a book that I recall having examples of good voice. Lately it has been Dick Francis mysteries. He's the only mystery writer I've ever really got hooked on (probably because most of his stories revolve around horses, in some fashion or another), but also his books are easy to analyze, as far as writing style. His main character is ALWAYS the same, with a very distinct voice, but he always has a least one colorful side character, sometimes more, that add the needed variation in voice, and add the fun to reading his novels in addition to the suspense. For instance in the latest novel I re-read, Decider, I was amused by a side character that was obsessed with his thinning hair. Much sport could be had from this obsession. Was it voice, really, or just a fun quirk that characterized many of his conversations? It's always fun to analyze. But whatever it was, it worked. Without it, the novel would have only half succeeded (esp. since this novel had hardly any romantic elements, either).

After finishing that novel, I sat down one evening at my book and wrote 1600 words - reminiscent of crazy November days! - ha! I still have it in me!) -- but even more fun, I finally hit on the idea for Tara that I've been searching for. Not just a characterization, such as Tara's sassy teenage attitude at odds with her love of reading and drawing and fantasy, but a characterization that can really be worked out in dialogue with other characters. I can't wait to finish the novel (I'm at section 73 out of 80!) so I can go back to start working my new ideas in.

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