1. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    Style Finding my voice - my process during this struggle?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Burnistine, Aug 19, 2015.

    I've found that while I am struggling to perfect my next novel, I must also perfect my voice. I wrote eight chapters before I realized that I had to go back and reread the first one because it sounded flat. Not only did I discover that the character was one-dimensional, there was a pathetic sameness that seemed to punch me in the face and beg, "WILL YOU PLEASE DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT?" I didn't need action or a stronger plot. I could address the plot later. And since the first chapter is filled with action already, that's not what I needed either. What I needed now was that storytelling style that keeps readers turning the page. Often, I find myself stuck on that first chapter for hours rearranging the words until finally something clicks. I hear a rhythm that's uneven, choppy, then smoothing out into this seemingly musical upbeat tempo; flowery in part--purple prose, if you will; mysterious in others. I always smile when a rhythm emerges.

    Many say to write the entire novel first--just get it down on paper. That advice has its place. Rare do I worry about getting all the story down on paper because the story is embedded in my brain long before I turn on my computer and begin, "Yesterday, the Glenwood Canyon lacked the defiance and ferocity Robert Jaeger craved." But for me, I can't move on to the next chapter until that voice is right. The beginning is that pivotal place where a story defines the entire manuscript. Once I've established it, I'm ready for the next challenge--to show and not tell.

    Can you share how you go about finding your voice?
     
  2. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know I keep banging on about POV, but I would say start off in first-person. Finding a voice in first-person makes far more sense in my head, as it's the MC who is addressing the reader. There's no confusion with character voice and narrator voice, because in first-person they are one and the same.

    If you're already writing in first-person, then I don't really know what to advise.

    If you ever find the secret to unlocking that voice, let me know.
     
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  3. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    Are you saying that you write in first person, even though your book, when finished, is in second person? You have to go back and make that switch? How do you pull this off? I have a hard time trying to understand why in the world I don't like writing in first person. I won't even buy a book written in first person. And those that I have bought by mistake, are sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. I have got to find out what my problem is about first person storytelling.
     
  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, sorry, I meant 'start off' in terms of learning to write.

    I have exactly the same problem with second-person POV, except that I'm perfectly happy to read books written from this POV. I just can't write it.

    I get so bogged down and confused by narrative voice Vs dialogue, that I simply can't focus. I'm not feeling anything as I write and feel totally disconnected from the characters.

    I know I over-analyse everything, but I've kind of convinced myself that a second-person narrative makes no sense whatsoever. We're essentially talking about other people, and discussing their thoughts and feelings - things we can't possibly know as an observer.

    However, as I said, none of these things even occur to me when reading a novel written in second-person, so who knows what's going on?

    First-person is the most natural form of story-telling in my view, as you're simply relaying events that happened to 'you', the narrator.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  5. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    I'm writing a story now that sounds too choppy. I want to smooth it out, but I'm having a time doing so. I can't move on to chapter 2 until I get the voice just right. I thought I had it like I wanted it yesterday. Nope. It's nowhere close. Once I establish that voice, I can thread it through the rest of the book.

    Don't you think writing is the hardest profession in the world? Geez.
     
  6. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    Honestly, the best way to develop your voice is to write. You don't have to write your serious project, just sit there and bang out a few hundred words on whatever subject. Write every day. Set yourself a realistic, manageable wordcount goal, and write.
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    When I start a new story I go through this - I don't feel right progressing until I have some idea on the tone of the character. And it can take a while. However I do set a bit of a time limit to either write something else or press on.
    Seeing as how you've already wrote past it - just keep going and get the first draft out. I wouldn't drop your forward momentum to clean up the beginning. The beginning is always going to need work as your style or your technique could improve over the time you spend working on the novel anyway. What works at the time might not work - six months later. What you could do is make notes on some of the changes you have in mind to make or - stop rereading the beginning.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a feeling what you're looking for is more like the tone of that particular story/character rather than your voice as an author? In my case, the latter is always there, I don't have to look for it, while the overall tone of each story is something that I need to find early on in the writing process. I don't have any particular techniques, usually it comes almost automatically from knowing the characters personality and the feeling I want to convey with that story. My voice as an author though, is more or less recognizable in everything I write I think, even though the stories might be quite different.
     
  9. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    Tesoro, everything you've described, for me, is my voice. The tone of the story, all of it. As I rewrite the first chapter, I'm finding that the characterization of the MC is going deeper and deeper into who he is. As I develop him, I'm also simultaneously developing my style of writing, tone, and, if you will, my voice. To me, all of that is voice, except the characterization.

    My style is to rewrite that first chapter until I can sit back and go "Aaah. That's it." Usually takes me a week or two. But the time is worth it. For me, the book hinges on that first chapter, whether I spend time on the first chapter in the beginning or during rewrites. Doesn't matter. It's the pivotal point of the book for me. I was wondering if it's that way for everyone else.
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I can't get that voice in the first chapter. I have to really explore every scene with the character. Sometimes the way I pictured it in my head doesn't work on paper and I realise actually, my character would do something else here. I wouldn't get that depth of knowledge just from writing one chapter.
     
  11. C. W. Evon
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    C. W. Evon Member

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    I'm kind of frustrated about my style, actually. I really want to write sparsely so that every word packs this great punch. So I try to do that, but instead, I end up using these wordy, complicated sentence structures and long words that create a sort of satirical formality. I can't seem to get it out of me, and believe me I try.

    My point is you can't just pick a style, however much you might want to. It just has to evolve naturally. Just keep writing, and you'll find it as you go. Style is one of those things that can wait until revisions.
     
  12. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    Everyone is different on this topic, I suppose. I can change my style at will. However, the difficulty comes when deciding which style to use for which book. It's one of those things that's intimately woven in as the story develops in my head. For some reason, it happens before I write. I get into problems if I want to change it midstream, or shortly after I've begun writing.
     

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