Monday, November 7, 2011

Voice in the Novel

It’s day 7 of NaNoWriMo 2011 and sadly I’m far behind where I would like to be. Why? My novel isn’t flowing the way I’d like it to yet. I have great characters and a solid plot line, so you’d think it would be moving along quickly right?

The problem I’m encountering is the ever illusive VOICE.

Since NaNoWriMo 2008, I’ve been working on drafts of a novel that I feel will be ready to start the long journey to publishing in 2012 (yay!). I’ve put a lot of work into it and finally feel like it’s ready for the world. However, this novel has a very distinct voice. That’s great, but it’s also getting in my way. 

The piece I’m working on right now is so far removed from the one I’ve been working on that it’s hard to break away from the voice I’m used to. As a writer, I have to find a way to make it work. If I want to have a career as a novelist, I can’t expect to write one novel and call it a day. So, how can we as novelists learn to write in different voices and make them each unique?

  • Relax. Writing is a fun, creative process and stressing about it will take the joy out of your novel. Readers will be able to tell by the sheer lack of joy in your language that the writing process was miserable and they probably won’t make it to the end. Have fun and enjoy what you’re writing, the rest will fall into place.
  • Listen. Reading your novel (or story or poem or whatever) out loud will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. It will alert you to the moments when the language sounds off or your grammar is bad much more effectively than reading it silently will. If you want to know if your novel has a unique and moving voice, listen to how it sounds out loud.

  • Keep writing. If you know you have a good story and you want to share it with the world, you have to keep going. No one will be able to read your work if you give up hope. Keep writing and eventually it will pay off.
 How do you deal with voice in your writing? Do you find it hard to transition between longer projects?

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