Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Refining Your Voice

So last week I mentioned that critiques can smother or dull a voice.

Well, the opposite is also true. Good critiques can smooth and refine voice. Just because a voice is strong doesn't mean it's the best it can be.

Writing guidelines are tools, as are critiques. Use them to sharpen and shape your voice, to strengthen it and make it powerful.

What is the best critique you've ever received in any area of your life? How did it change your writing or perspective?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Comfortable in My Own Voice

Last week I talked about being deliberate with our writing.

The words we choose, the length of our sentences, even the pacing of our scenes can all be traced back to voice. It's important to get comfortable in our voice, to know it, because if we write how other writers tell us to write and don't know our voice yet, we can lose it.

It's important to learn from other writers, to gain knowledge and new writing skills, but in the end, we're responsible for using these things to strengthen our own voice, and not to carbon copy another's voice.

Have you ever felt like you'd lost your voice, or are you still finding it? Are you comfortable in your voice?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Deliberate

The term Rules used in the below post really means guidelines but we're taught that they're rules, thus that's the word I use. In reference to breaking them, I mean departing from the standards we're taught :-)

Rules are fun to break, but there's two things we must know before we break them.

1) What are the rules?

2) Why are we breaking them?

As I've been reading contest entries, a commonality stood out to me. The overuse of exclamation points. I'd forgotten how much we writers love that bit of punctuation. And so when I was reading a very good book, I noticed immediately when the author used exclamation points in three consecutive sentences.

I thought to myself: Now that's Voice. That author knows exactly what she's doing, and why.

When we write, we must be deliberate. Every word, every character, every action, every scene must have a purpose to the story. It is up to us to discover what that purpose is. It is up to us to decide how to use the rules to make our story most effective.

Have you broken any rules in your current WIP? If so, why? Leave an example, if you'd like. :-)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Last Dance With Mary Jane

Anyone remember that song?

I loved it in sixth grade, having absolutely no clue what it meant.

In the writing world, there's a Mary Jane too, and she's not welcome in our stories. My RWR (the RWA magazine) came in the mail last month and one writer did an interesting article on writer terms. I hadn't heard the Mary Jane one in a while so thought I'd pass it on.

A Mary Jane is basically when the main character is too perfect.

Ever written a Mary Jane? Ever read one? Without pinpointing authors, can you name any characters that were so Mary Janish you gagged?

I'm officially a ditz. The term I'm referring to is MARY SUE, not Mary Jane...Whoops!