The last post on Wonkomance was like the smartest thing written about writing, so if you’re looking for something insightful and mind-bending, CLICK HERE.
For those of you still with me, I’ve been thinking about voice lately. No, scratch that. I’ve been thinking about voice ALL THE TIME EVER. Because that’s the most important thing to me. Sometimes it seems like the only thing almost not quite. Which is tough because many smart and talented people say the exact same thing about “story”, this vague and nebulous thing that is more than plot but less than the whole, shunting voice to the side along with window curtains and ambient lighting.
I just can’t. Honestly. It’s like telling me the sky is pink when I’m staring up at the cool, peaceful blue.
So anyway. I’ve got Pandora on in my car, and this song comes on by Akon. I start thinking about the lyrics. Overanalyzing, as I do. And when it says nobody wants to see them together, I was like hey, that’s applicable, because my book that came out, it has that setup.
I’m listening and I’m listening and the hero is fighting for their right to love, yeah, and then I was like hold up. Because THEN people started telling his fictional heroine lies to get between them. And her suspicion was aggravated by the hero’s own dissembling due to his insecurities about his past. BUT THEN his love conquered that fear and etc, etc. Which is exactly how it goes in my book AKON HOW DID YOU KNOW?
Because it’s all been done before. It has. We are all just mashing and grinding this archetypal pulp and coming up with a glass of story juice. And we want it to be fresh! We want it to be new, because that’s the point of this writing gig. To tell the story from our own perspective and in our own voice.
Which leads me to…
A few days ago I was compulsively clicking links scrolling through my twitter feed. I came upon a blog where writers submitted their work and then some sort of industry professional (editor, agent, etc) would critique it. Neat.
This time the industry professional was an author. But when I read the critiques, my heart sank. The critiquer had a comment for almost every sentence. I felt the critiquer author was trying to rewrite it in her voice instead of the (actual) author’s. In fact, the best line, the moment of genius in a brief excerpt was cut entirely. Man, I hope that author doesn’t listen to that. But she might because the status of the critiquer and the site is big tall ledge, and our self doubt is always handy to give us a push.
It can be very hard to hold that line sometimes, but we have to, we have to, because voice is the life of the story. I mean, looking at the authors on this sidebar, the ones I love to read, voice is so much a part of their writing. WRITING is so much a part of their writing, if you know what I mean. It’s not just the story; it’s how the story is told.
Speaking specifically to wonkomance, I wonder how much of the wonkiness is inherent in the voice. You might think not, because wonkiness is in the story, right? Story story story, they drill into my head. Renaissance fair actor heroes and plumber heroines and reverse Cinderella stories. That’s all story, plot, things that happen and not the way it was said.
But the thing is, the same synopsis in the hands of different authors could be wildly different books. It’s the things we choose to mention or ignore. In the words we use and the metaphors we choose. I really think voice IS the “story”. They are inseparable. You can’t eschew the glittering surface of the ocean and demand the depths; one is a flipside of the other.
At least I think so. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it :)
“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” Jack Kerouac