Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What is a Writer's Voice?

          It takes a great deal of experience to become natural.
                                                                        —Willa Cather

As a writer, I want to be able to write anything, from any point of view, with varying voices. So why do I worry about my voice if I must immerse myself in my characters' voices?
Speaking loudly doesn't ensure your voice will be heard.
(Image courtesy of: Darwin Bell on flickr)
The importance of a writer's voice could be explained like this:

You read a book and can see that it is skillfully written. It has an interesting plot, strong imagery, likable characters, and all that. Yet it is still, somehow, unfulfilling.

The story is probably lacking the writer's voice.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Are you a messy writer?

How I start a novel: ...or this one, at least.

Some people are planners. They plan out every plot point. They plan all the arcs. They study formulas and beat sheets and structures and I don't know what. Then they get all over me for not knowing every single mark that my characters are supposed to hit.

Other people totally poo-poo the planning process. I've had people on various forums snidely tell me to Have fun planning because the rest of us are writing. (Or making troll-like comments on forums?)
Nature's model of the process of writing a novel. Image courtesy of Heber Farnsworth on Flickr.
Lots of people say, "I get to know my characters as I write."

When I used to write short stories, I also did that. I didn't plan. I just let the

Friday, January 2, 2015

What question is your novel asking?

Story Questions vs. Plot Questions

I ran across Karyne Norton's blog the other day. Karyne is a young adult fantasy writer. She hasn't tried pitching any of her books to agents and has not self-published. She wants the book she does that with to be good and understands that writing a book is a learning process. I respect this. (It might feel familiar to me.) In one of her posts on 

It's easier to answer when you know what the question is.
This was exciting because it was something that I had my novel group focus on when we first started out. When Pigs in Heaven first came out, I'd read that Barbara Kingsolver started her book with a question. The question for Pigs in Heaven was something like, “When their needs don't match up, how do you determine whether the needs of a single person or their community are more important?” Or something like that. Since I'd heard that, I'd always tried to ask a question that seemed vital, but which a person isn't able to answer quickly or simply.