Monday, August 24, 2009

Author Voice, Part 4 by Megan DiMaria

Please welcome Megan DiMaria for her final installment on Author Voice.

Author Voice, Part 4

If you followed my previous articles, I hope you understand author voice a bit more. Author voice is the distinct manner in which a novelist creates sentences and story.

In Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, literary agent Donald Maass asks, “Are the voices of your characters ordinary and generic, or are they highly colored and specific? Heighten point of view throughout your manuscript, and you will strengthen your story’s impact.”

I took his advice to deepen the characterization, motivation, the setting of my character Linda in Out of Her Hands. And dug a bit deeper to find the particular way I would say it, to find my author voice.

Before:

I regard the beauty standing before me. And she is beautiful. If I’d seen a portrait of this girl, I’d have thought that her skin was retouched, her eyes were highlighted and her lips were enhanced. And her body? Well, you can just say it’s every man’s dream. No wonder Nick thinks he’s falling in love. What’s not to like?

She releases her timid grasp on my damp hand and we stand like two idiots, vacantly staring at one another, each smiling cautiously. I nod. “Shall we go inside?”

In response, she turns and leads me inside. Really, proper etiquette would have had her deferring to me, and following me into the house. Into my house.

After:

I regard the beauty standing before me. And she is beautiful. If I’d seen a portrait of this girl, I’d have thought that her skin was retouched, her eyes were highlighted and her lips were enhanced. And her body? Well, you can just say it’s every man’s dream. No wonder Nick thinks he’s falling in love. What’s not to like?

She releases her timid grasp on my damp hand, and we stand like two idiots, each smiling at the other as if we were vacuous socialites about to go for the jugular over the last pair of $1,200 Versace leather boots. I nod. “Shall we go inside?”

In response, she turns and leads me inside. Really, proper etiquette would have had her deferring to me, and following me into the house. Into my house.

Here are some more tips to developing your author voice:

1. Allow yourself to be lousy—while you’re finding your voice, some of what you write may very well stink. That’s Okay. It’s all part of the process.

2. Write honestly and allow your passion to shine through. When you write from your personal feelings, your voice will be natural. Write as if you were talking to a friend.

3. Care about your subject matter. If you don’t care what you’re writing about, you’ll never discover your true voice.

4. Play games—Select a picture from a magazine, billboard, or advertisement, and write a one-line sentence about what is going on. Or go through old photo albums and write a short story about one of your favorite pictures.

In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Brown and King say, “In order to write with a mature voice, you have to mature first.”

Be passionate with your ideas and put your feelings into your writing. Get emotional, but don’t tell your reader how you feel, show him/her.

What is your opinion? Don’t be afraid to share. Opinions give us our voice. I encourage you to practice your craft, pursue your voice, and perfect your style. And don't forget, have fun writing your story!

Megan DiMaria’s debut novel, Searching for Spice, is about a long-married woman who wants to have an affair—with her husband. Her second novel, Out of Her Hands, is about taking life as it comes at you with all the surprises and challenges you face with young adult children. In addition to reaching out through her novels, Megan also speaks to women’s groups and teaches on the craft of fiction to writers at conferences and regional seminars. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and assistant director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild, Rocky Mountain Region. You can find her online at www.megandimaria.com, www.megandimaria.blogspot.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She also authors an online writing column at Examiner.com, contributes to the Seriously Write blog, and the Coffee and the Muse writer’s ezine.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed that excerpt and those were wonderful tips. Thanks!

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