Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finding My Voice...Again

When I originally wrote Areia, my epic fantasy novel, I'd written several short stories and even more beginnings of novels, but I'd yet to complete a book. I'd yet to go through the long, arduous process of pulling a story through the full arc, or on better days, of sailing through the acts. I'd written short pieces, and each had their own tone, their own voice.

Switching between voices was easy on a shorter work. I had an edgy, snobby, and bloodthirsty Fight Club-type character, I had the everywoman romantic, I had a bizarre space nomad. The tale dictated the tone for me.

And then I got to Areia, and I wrote and wrote and wrote for three years until I finished the book. And when I finished, I finally knew who my main character was. I didn't realize it at the time, but it took all the way until a scene about 1,000 pages into the novel before I really understood the character. My tone for those first 1,000 pages is all over the place. The voice, the narrator, that invisible person speaking the tale, is at least five different voices.

So when I sat down to begin the edits, I knew I wanted to create a cohesive tone. It's a tone completely unlike Madison, my lighthearted urban fantasy. I want a tone that balances nostalgia with rye humor with fondness for the flaws and the strengths of my main character, for my hidden narrator is my main character looking back on her life (though that's never expressly stated).

To my knowledge, no author I've read writes with two distinct voices on two different genre platforms. Perhaps it can't be done. But I want to. I don't want Areia to look or feel or sound the same as Madison. I want the quality of writing to be on par (and improve!), but I don't want the same flavor. This isn't a lighthearted romp through a fantastical epic; it's a grittier, more emotional perspective of a woman struggling under the burdens placed upon her by desperate goddesses caught in an empire teetering on the edge of ruin.

All this to say I began the official edits today. Actually last night. I read through the first chapter. There are maybe three lines and a handful of phrases I want to keep. This morning I wrote the new beginning. In one hour, I got one page. That's damn slow writing for me. But finding the right voice and tone are more important than time.


Marc said...

I've always found that the voice just comes. It depends on what you're writing about that shapes the voice. At least, I think so.

Also, Stephen King can write different genres with different voices. That's one reason why he's the master. The only problem is his endings are sometimes lacking.

Rebecca Chastain said...

Hey Marc,

I'm with you on feeling like the work dictates the voice. And I know the voice I want. I can hear it at night when I'm trying to fall to sleep (and I craft what I'm sure are *the best* lines ever when I'm laying in bed and too lazy to get up to write them down). I think it might be more an exorcism of the voice of my previous book. Madison keeps wanting to pop up, which simply won't due. She and Aria are two main characters who would *not* get along!

I've never read Stephen King. I've heard his Dark Tower series is very good and not horror, but I'm still leery. The closest I've come to getting one of his books is getting his book on writing. That seems like it would have some good tips in it.

Marc said...

You've not read On Writing? You should. It may be. the best book on writing. I like to think King is more of a fantasy author than a horror one. You might not appeciate Dark Tower without reading his other works. It took him 20 years to finish it and characters and plots were leaking into other works of his without him knowing. If you want to read excellent dialog you should read King. There are a ton of good non horror stuffs he's done.

TikiBird said...

Good job, back to Aria! (Like the name change.) And I agree with Marc--On Writing is a must. Plus, it's funny.