I’m struggling with voice!

A couple of posts back, I blogged about voice, and now I’m struggling with the voice of my own work!  Don’t you just hate that?

I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, except that despite point of view changes, the narration all sounds the same.  It’s also choppy and lacks depth. 

Until yesterday, I had no idea what to do about it, but while drifting off to sleep last night I had an ‘a ha!’.  I’ve decided that when writing the second draft, I’m going to work with one point of view first from the beginning of their narration to the end before moving on to another point of view.  Now that I’ve got the story down, I don’t need to keep things like timelines in mind and I don’t have to write in order. 

Working on one point of view will help me to develop that character’s voice and to deepen the narration until it flows.  How do I know it’ll work?  I don’t, but when I thought of it I got that buzz in your belly that tells you you’re on the right track. 

Fingers crossed!

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Getting Started

I had an interesting conversation with another writer the other day.  He said that for him, the language has to come first.  I have read some of his writing, and it doesn’t surprise me because the language is truly beautiful. 

It struck me that voice is one of the last things that comes for me.  In the first draft, the narrative voice floats in and out because it’s not what I’m concentrating on.  I can’t say that I concentrate on anything except getting it down.  Nothing seems to make that any easier except plugging away at it.  Sometimes I might ‘hit my stride’ for a bit, but more often than not I’m just slugging away, bit by bit, til it’s done.

And to be honest, I’m not unhappy about this, as there’s not much that stops my writing (other than sickness, tiredness, business, and any other procrastination excuse I can think of!).  However, it does make me wonder if I found that magical thing that pulled my work together, maybe the first draft would happen more easily and require less revising later on. 

Does anyone else have anything that they have to work on before they can start writing?

The Importance of Voice

I don’t review books on this blog (who cares what I think about a new novel or film?) but I recently read a book that had such a distinctive voice, it got me hooked from the first sentence.  The book is The Whale Road by Robert Low.  It’s the first part of a trilogy in the genre of historical fiction, something I don’t often read.  The story is set in 965AD and is about a group of wandering warriors looking for a fortune in a world that no longer needs them. 

Low uses language in a clever and engaging way, and I’ve learnt a valuable lesson.  Low uses Norse names and words to give the reader a sense of place while keeping the sentence structure clear and straightforward.  The voice of the narrator, fifteen year old Orm Ruriksson, is uncomplicated but with the lilt of the storyteller.  I was particularly impressed with the first couple of chapters of the book, when Orm is both relating events in the ‘present’ while referring back to his experiences of the near past without my getting confused. 

While the book is clearly written, the psychological and political dynamics it portrays are anything but, and I was captivated by the push and pull of desperate men struggling to live with an oath that binds them to each other, all presented through the honest voice of young Orm.  I’ve probably not done the book justice here (another reason why I don’t do reviews!), but it has got me thinking about my own writing style and how explanation and emotion can be woven into a story seemlessly without it feeling like a lecture.  I can only hope to achieve that myself.