Tag Archives: writing

Writerly Wednesday: finding your voice

One of the things I worried most about when starting a new series was the main character’s (MC’s) voice. I didn’t want Sandy to sound like Eleanor. In some ways, I won’t be able to completely eliminate it, they’re all tiny pieces of me, after all, but I am working very hard to ensure that Sandy and Eleanor (and the MC’s of future Oracle Bay books) are all very distinct.

One of the ways I do that is to write character bios. I include more than physical descriptions, I add things like “childhood,” and “relationship with parents.” Eleanor’s adopted parents are dead, but they died when she was twenty-two, so that impacted her as an adult. Sandy doesn’t know her bio dad, but has a great relationship with her mother and step-father, even if she seldom sees them now that they’re retired and off traveling the world.

A tip I got during a romance writing panel last weekend (holla Mel!) that I am absolutely adopting is doing silly personality quizzes for the characters that make you answer questions you’d never think of.

Another thing I do is plan out their favorite curses (profanity, not hexes…although I think there might be an Oracle Bay character or two who’d prefer a good hex to swearing). Eleanor’s is “motherfucker,” which is not a surprise to anyone who’s read more than a couple pages. Sandy’s is “Damnit” with a guilty look around to make sure no one heard.

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Finding your voice – what makes you unique – is one of the easiest and hardest things about being a writer. You don’t want to sound like everyone else – and I think (I hope!) I’ve achieved that with Eleanor Morgan. Switching voices enough to have unique characters while still sounding like¬†me is another challenge.

The reason it’s easy is because it’s you. You already are unique. The reason it’s hard is because¬†diversity of voice and consistency within each individual character. This is one of the things I look for most when editing (and one of the things I really hope my editor watches out for). When the Beer Guy reads my books, he points out when I have other characters – like Florence – say something in a way that sounds more like Eleanor McSarcasticPants.

Everything you do in your writing, down to the punctuation and dialog tags you use, informs your voice. Eleanor’s voice is the most like my own, which makes sense as she’s my first. But, she has habits and attitudes that are decidedly not me (for instance, her Taco Bell obsession…give me a good food cart taco any day).

The more you write, the more your voice will become distinctive. I recently edited a book (I am eagerly awaiting the return of said book for another go) that had something wrong that I couldn’t put a finger on. It was a great story, and was well-written, but there was just something missing. It took someone who knew the author better than I did to identify that the voice was inauthentic based on what they knew of the author’s own voice. As soon as that was identified, it was like being smacked in the face with the knowledge.

You want your writing to be authentically you. That doesn’t mean every character sounds like you, but it does mean that you should pour yourself into your book and not edit yourself out of it at the end. *side eyes*

Your style, your habits, your vocabulary – all of those things should find their way in. From there, you craft your characters within the framework of you. The only way to get there, and get there consistently, is practice. (Accepting constructive criticism doesn’t hurt, either.)

 

How do you use your authentic voice when there are so many voices that need to be distinct, memorable, and genuine?

Three Things Thursday – Broken World Edition

It’s that pre-publishing time when everything is all Broken World all the time.

  1. The cover reveal is going out in my newsletter tomorrow (see sidebar for signup!) and the preorder announcements will happen Monday at the latest (just waiting on a couple outlets to get it out and up). Paperbacks won’t be available for a while, yet, but I’ll let you know when they’re available.
  2. The publication date has been moved up a week to 3/20/18; ARCs will be going out this weekend
  3. I have comments back from the editor, and she seemed to like it okay (unless they were tears of despair about my writing, rather than tears because my writing made her have other, more positively sad feels).

I’ll leave you with another glimpse of the cover!

Writerly Wednesday: Broken World Update

I have the final copy of the cover in my hot little hands! My Facebook group, the Amyzonians, will be the first to get a chance to see it, and my newsletter subscribers will get a glimpse next Tuesday (subscribe in the sidebar!).

You guys? You’ll have to wait a week*

BUT, because I am kind, I am giving you a super sneak peek RIGHT MEOW.

Writerly Wednesday: Constructive Criticism

The one thing I worried about more than anything else (this is likely a lie) when putting myself out there is ‘what would people say about me?’

Sending my book off to my first readers is so hard! What if it’s trash?

I dreaded my first negative review. DREADED it. And then? I got it.

Starts out most excellent then apparently the author decided the plot needed thickening and devolved it into a typical jealousy filled bodice ripper.

Is that or is that not the best negative (2-star) review ever? I have used that as a marketing line. It is that good.

Bottom line – people are going to say things you don’t want to hear. How you handle it is up to you. I believed that I was gonna be the kind of person who would curl up in a ball and cry every time someone said something critical. And, I’m not gonna lie, my first book’s editing process hurt my soul.

My editor (who is not the same one I use now, although not because of this) told me things that I just knew were wrong. KNEW IT. (Spoiler: I was wrong.)

It hurt so much every time she told me the way I’d done something wasn’t the best way. I knee-jerked every comment on my first read-through.

And then, I took a step (or twenty) back and tried to look at it objectively. And I made changes – not only in The Cardinal Gate, but in my future writing. I am a better writer now because of the critique I got from my editor. (This holds true – I learn something new every time I go through edits.)

After that first time, which took forever for me to process because my knees were jerking all over the place, I developed a process. Whenever I get any criticism (I’m speaking specifically about my writing, but this applies to my whole life, too), if it makes me knee-jerk, I take my step (or twenty) back to think about it.

I need to look at what’s being said objectively and try to remove myself from the process as much as possible in order to make sure that I’m making the right choice. (Spoiler the second: this is much, much easier to do in regards to my writing than in my personal life or when arguing with idiots on the internet.)

It’s not always gonna be constructive. You’re going to get reviews from people who think a sex scene is a bodice ripper and think that’s a negative. You’re gonna get messages from people who think your cover model is too fat, who think that your cover model is unattractive, and who think the reason you chose such a fat, unattractive cover model is because you’re fat and unattractive. (Yes, these are all things, from more than one person…it’s mostly the Eleanor jabs – apparently she’s too “hippy” and “thick, but not in a good way” to be a believable love interest.) And that is going to piss you off. A lot of times, it’ll be presented as constructive. It isn’t. And you can’t let it get under your skin.

Save your energy, save your knee jerks, and save your own brain and sense of self-worth by determining who you’ll listen to and who you won’t. If the criticism that sears your soul comes from Joe in the Internet who claims to be an expert in [grammar, vampires, how thin a woman must be to be deemed attractive to vampires, EMPs, the proper way to announce gender identity, sexual preference, or ethnicity in a book, etc., ad nauseam], laugh and walk away. Joe doesn’t know you and Joe likely doesn’t know shit. Even if Joe is an expert on what fictional vampires (as opposed to the other kind) like in a woman, unless he knows you and your fictional vampire, he doesn’t get an opinion.

The ones you listen to are the ones you choose. My choices are my PSM, my partner, my beta readers, and my editor. Sometimes I ask opinions of other writers because I value their input, but I find it very easy (and very easy on my heart) to reject any unsolicited criticism. You don’t have to take what’s dished out if it’s not what you ordered.

So – know that it’s out there. Listen to the people you trust. Mock (quietly, not in their faces, probably) the randoms who think they know your life. And – if something makes your knees jerk, sit yourself down and figure out why before getting all mad about it. It might be valuable insight into who you are, or it might just be another idiot in the internet.

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Three Things Thursday: Is it really Thursday edition

It is Thursday, right? I’ve been off a day all week. Anyway, I think I have the right day, so here goes.

  1. Money is the worst, y’all. (I’ve started my taxes for 2017.) Money is also the greatest (I’m going to Ireland/Spain in <1 month!). Sigh. Money.

  2. My child, the adorable and sassy AF Alvie Bean, has a very special gift. He is able to find the smallest puddle of water in every outdoor space and fall into it, drenching himself in situations when it should be impossible.

  3. Book stuff is hard, yo. I sat down with the Beer Guy last night and brainstormed my/our plans for the next three years. I’ve got so much ambition, but not as much time as I’d personally prefer. I’m going to have to be extremely disciplined about time to ensure I fit in the day job, the writing, the editing, as well as self-care and exercise. I think it’s doable, if ambitious, and can lead to a future where I can maybe *fingers crossed* eliminate one of those things (psst…the one that takes the most amount of time…).