Thursday, December 5, 2013

Finding your voice

The more you write the better your craft. Everyone knows this. Something else I've found that makes me a better writer is reading other writer's WIP. My very first critique partner and I started at a local critique group on the exact same day. I handed my pages off, arrogant and waiting for the exultant praise for my pages I knew they were due. Um, yeah, no. That was the day I learned all the rules--we all know the rules. Watch your -ly words, don't repeat the same word too many times, show don't tell. I pretty much got my ass handed to me. Fortunately they weren't mean about it, it wasn't malicious. And I needed to hear all of it. Then came my CPs pages. I was immediately jealous. Snarky, witty, and fun, her pages were everything I wanted mine to be. Of course there were problems with them, but they were still good. I went home that night and began working on a new project that had been nagging me for a little while. The whole time I heard my CPs voice in my head. And it helped me find my own.

Cut to two years later and I was working on another round of revisions. Maybe all my positivity about doing another round of revisions was gone. For whatever reason, I lost my voice. I wasn't writing badly, just the magic of the very first version was gone. And I couldn't find it. For months--months--I wrote and rewrote and rewrote. I found a new opportunity to submit to new agents and sent them the beginning of my new version. I liked it, thought it was good, but I knew it could be better. Still, there was some of my old arrogance there. Then one agent responded and told me some of it read like "Sci-Fi parody." Ouch! That hit me where it counted. And it woke me up. I turned off my laptop, pulled out my notebook paper and began to write again. This time, I didn't write my story, I wrote facts about my story. Details about each character, details about the world, details about the enemy. I expanded on them and reminded myself of all the things I fell in love with about my story.

Maybe I needed the hit to my pride for me to find my voice again. Whatever it was, I feel like I found it. I actually woke up today wanting to re-read my pages because I love them so much. That hasn't happened in a long time. I once read--If you don't want to read your pages, why do you think other readers would?

2 comments:

  1. That's an awesome feeling -- when you can reread your pages and think, you know what? These are GREAT. There is gold in here. So true, that if we aren't interested/moved/entertained/intrigued by our story, how can we expect anyone else to be?

    Great post.

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  2. I still don't agree with the scifi parody. Not one bit. But the newer version is definitely fresher, better, like a more grown up you <3

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