March 29, 2015, 12:18:56 PM
bigger smaller reset 800px Wide width Full width Reset * *

Writers Retreat

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Because of a rash of spammers signing up for the boards, registrations is temporarily disabled If you have any questions or really want to join, drop me a line -- -- I can always add you manually.
Pages: 1 ... 8 9 [10]
 on: March 04, 2015, 03:24:08 PM 
Started by ColoradoKate - Last post by ColoradoKate
Oh, I'm intrigued by this business of how self-aware a character is, and how that would affect POV and voice (and the author's choices)... because yes, of course it must, but I'd never thought about that!

My third-person novel, the one I struggled with in terms of learning how to write a close third POV, has a lot of internal conflict and growth, but the MC is also pretty clueless most of the way through it, and that actually causes many of his problems. So I think now that I'm glad I stuck with third person.

 on: March 04, 2015, 03:08:03 PM 
Started by jojocookie - Last post by judyr
That's EXACTLY what I mean. Your character's history gives him the right voice for the situation. I think that's what I'm lacking. Thank you.

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:19:42 PM 
Started by chriseboch - Last post by chriseboch
This part goes into more detail, and you probably won't be able to finish it by the end of this workshop. But you might want to save these tips and work on the exercises for the next couple of weeks.

You can analyze your own writing – and any critiques you've gotten from Institute teachers, editors at conferences, writing group partners, etc. – to determine your current voice.

You also need to decide what kind of voice you want to have. Ideally this won't be terribly different from your natural voice, but you may need to adapt and refine your voice to suit your intended audience.

Read many books and see what resonates with you. Decide on your ideal audience – elementary school boys who like superheroes and potty humor? Thoughtful teen girls exploring their place in the world? Toddlers sitting on a parents’ lap?

What kind of language appeals to that audience? Read the books they love and analyze the writing. How long are the average sentences and paragraphs? What’s the balance of action, dialogue and description? Is the language formal or colloquial, poetic or direct? By understanding the voices of others, you can start to build your own voice.

Compare your current voice to your ideal voice. What techniques do you need to develop? For example, if you want to write for younger readers but your reading level tend to be high school or college, you need to work on short sentences, simple sentence structure, and simple vocabulary.

These questions will help you identify your ideal voice, but if they are too divergent, you may have a problem. You can learn techniques to strengthen your writing and overcome weaknesses. However, if your dream is to write edgy, award-winning young adult novels, but your best pieces so far are sweet, rhyming picture books, you need to understand where that's coming from and what it means.

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:18:12 PM 
Started by snow4winter - Last post by chriseboch
"Didn't love the language" could be a sign that it's a voice or style problem. The next question becomes, do you have a good/strong voice, and it's not to her taste, or have you not yet developed a successful voice?

Going through the exercises and information here might help you figure out which it is. Additional opinions could also help.

Fortunately, you can learn voice! A lot of voice comes down to things like point of view, showing versus telling, using strong verbs, writing to the appropriate grade level, and so forth. Voice is a combination of techniques that can be learned.

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:12:54 PM 
Started by snow4winter - Last post by Fanny
I don't know whether I have a voice. The 25 agents that have rejected me never mentioned voice. One did she that she loved the premise of my book,I Have a Wrong Face, but she didn't love the language. Is it the voice or style that she didn't like?

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:09:06 PM 
Started by snow4winter - Last post by Fanny
I'm just testing whether this is the way to enter the conversation.

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:07:50 PM 
Started by chriseboch - Last post by chriseboch
By the way, the handout Jan posted has resources for close point of view. I really like third person close POV as a powerful tool.

Thanks, ColoradoKate, for noticing!

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:06:33 PM 
Started by chriseboch - Last post by chriseboch
Yep, short sentences count as style! I'll go ahead and post my insights, but anyone who wants to try this exercise, don't read this until you've studied the examples and thought about them.

All these examples have the following similarities:

•   at a fourth grade to sixth grade reading level
•   straightforward, direct language
•   action and dialogue
•   sensory detail (in fiction) – Before doing this exercise, I'd thought I focused mainly on plot but the description is there
•   strong verbs

My style is partly personal taste, partly my training as a magazine writer/editor. I build my style by tending toward shorter sentences and paragraphs, trying to eliminate wordiness, and looking for strong verbs and specific nouns.

This tendency already showed in The Well of Sacrifice (my first novel), but wasn't as refined. The Well of Sacrifice starts with description and background, in paragraphs from 5 to 12 book lines long, with no dialogue until page 9. But then the rhythm changes:

   I began to relax. I tried to shift my weight, but I had lost all feeling in my legs. I tumbled over, sprawling onto my side in the ferns and letting out a gasp.
   I waited in the silence that followed, my eyes shut tight. When I found the courage to open them, I saw Small staring down at me.
   Our eyes locked.
   I waited.
   He said something I couldn’t understand. When I didn’t answer, he said it again.

Were I to rewrite this today, I’d tighten it even more and add some physical/emotional response. My style has become more polished, but the roots are there.

 on: March 04, 2015, 02:03:47 PM 
Started by jojocookie - Last post by chriseboch
Does a strong voice also come with deeper characterization? My plots are often strong and filled with suspense, and the writing isn't horrible, but if my character doesn't stand out from any average middle grader maybe it lacks something?

That's a good point. That  doesn't mean you need to develop a character with a lot of random quirks. Character and plot should work together. Why is this the right story for that character, and the right character for that story?

Ideally, no matter how plot-driven the story is, it should be unique because of that character's reactions. You shouldn't be able to replace your main character with someone else and have exactly the same things happen. So if your character is simply following along the plot because they're doing what you tell them to do, that could be a problem.

I'll try to give an example. In my MG/YA suspense Bandits Peak, the main character is a young teenage boy who goes hiking in the woods and runs into some mysterious people. He suspects they are up to no good, but he doesn't tell anyone. Why?

Well, because he has to not tell in order for the plot to work. But that's not a good enough reason for the reader. In this case, I created a character who was fairly alienated from his family. He knows his parents are keeping secrets, so his revenge is to keep secrets from them. In addition, he has an innocent crush on the woman he meets and wants to protect and please her. His internal reactions drive the external story.

Also, he has a lot of experience with hiking, fishing, and camping, which allows himto do certain things in the story that an unexperienced character would not.

 on: March 04, 2015, 01:57:24 PM 
Started by ColoradoKate - Last post by chriseboch
Fascinating. My personal opinion is that there may be a best voice for each author, so if you write most successfully in one voice, it's fine to stick with it. Of course it can be fun and useful to develop new skills, but maybe go ahead and develop your skills in one voice before trying to develop another.

Young adult novels are more often first-person. Middle grade can go either way. Younger tends to be third person. But that doesn't mean you can't be successful going against the trend. The only real "rule" I've heard is that picture books for younger children should avoid the first-person voice, because young children hearing a story read aloud may be confused. If the parent is saying "I did this," the young listener might not understand that's the character speaking rather than the parent. I'm sure there are exceptions even to that.

As for whether a book will be "better" in first person or third person…. a lot of things come into play (including which voice the author does better). A few other things to consider:

A book with a large cast of characters might work better in third person with a bit of a distance or omniscient voice, to move back and forth between them smoothly. It's hard enough writing one or two strong first-person voices, without having to write three or more for an ensemble story.

If the character's first-person voice would be annoying, dull or hard to follow over long stretches – if they don't speak standard English, or have a limited vocabulary, for example – third person might be better. Third can also be better if the main character isn't that likable.

If the story is very personal and involves a lot of internal character growth, first person might work well. A more external action story might do well with third person. However, The Hunger Games was a first-person action story.

In my middle grade mystery The Eyes of Pharaoh, I went with third person because the main character is not very self-aware. She tends to act impulsively and not analyze what she's doing. Since I generally prefer close POV, I didn't have the author intrude to analyze things either. But it still seemed more appropriate to have a third person POV, like the reader is watching her rather than being her. It also helps with the ancient Egyptian setting, as I could describe the setting more even when she wouldn't necessarily notice things.

On the other hand, my Mayan drama, The Well of Sacrifice, is in the first-person, even though it has a historical setting. That's just the way it came to me, and I sold it, so I guess it worked. That character is more introspective though.

My Haunted series is in the first person, with a 13-year-old boy character, while my latest title, Bandits Peak, a MG/YA suspense, as a young teen boy main character but is in the third person voice. Why? Again, part of it is just how the story came to me. But I did consider what would be best. In Bandits Peak, the hero is a loner with dyslexia who doesn't really like to read or write, so third person seemed more authentic. In the Haunted series, the narrator spends a lot of time trying to analyze what's going on, and I think his voice adds a lot of personality.

Anyone else have opinions on this?

Pages: 1 ... 8 9 [10]
Powered by SMF 1.1.7 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC
Leviathan design by Bloc | XHTML | CSS