Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ode To Voice

At the end of my commenting on this month’s Are You Hooked I realized I had:
30 Not Hooked(s)
13 Hooked(s)
and 8 On The Fence(s)
so I went back through and picked out my top favorites and I realized that all of them I picked for the same reason: voice.

Top Pick
11: The Biggest Weirdo in the Whole Eighth Grade***** If I were an agent, I would snatch this one up to read.

Runner Ups (in no particular order)
37: However
36: The-Not-So-Beauty-Pageant Queen
15: Panic
25: Stop the Presses

Honorable Mentions (picked for originality, not voice)
19: Prisoners of the Throne
27: Forest for the Trees
45: Pandora

Now I’ve heard agents talking about how much voice matters to them, but I never realized until now just how much it matters to me. I should have though, because in my reading I tend toward the authors with more voice than others. It’s the reason I love Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson and Scott Westerfeld’s Tally Youngblood. They have voice.

Now I want voice. In my writing that is.
Maybe it’s something I can work on more.

There is, in fact, a project that I believe could be great, but I refuse to start in earnest until I feel like I have a solid unique voice for my main character.

How’s your voice?

Are You Hooked?

Last night I read and responded to all of the Are You Hooked entries at Miss Snark’s First Victim and I feel that I need a disclaimer or at least to talk about it.

Let me preface this blog by saying that very few of the entries hooked me and that I was honest in my comments. Though I tried not to say anything that could be taken as rude, I also did not sugar coat my feedback.

Now, the reason I’m blogging about the experience is that I do feel bad for not being able to give many positive reviews. As I am a writer as well, I feel I need this disclaimer. Here it is:

-No, I do not think the writers who didn’t hook me are terrible writers.
-No, I didn’t enter anything to this one, because I was late (3 hours and it was full up!)
-No, I don’t think my openings are better than other people’s

Yes, I DO think that good, solid, reel-you-in openings are the hardest, let me repeat, hardest, part of writing a good novel. It’s what I struggle with the most and I’m sure what many other writers feel likewise. It is for this reason that I am completely honest when I read others’ openings.

Think about it… We’re each trying to write a opening that gets the reader into the world of the novel, makes them care about at least one character, and includes or at least hints at the coming conflict… all without info dumping or putting in anything unnecessary that will slow the reader down or cause them to lose interest.

We want to write fantasmic, stupendous, knock-your-socks-off and make you buy this book openings. Not okay, not good, not so-so… In a market as tough as the publishing industry, we need to create literary miracles with our openings. They are the first think a potential agent, a potential editor, a potential publisher, and (most importantly) a potential reader is going to see. I am firmly convinced that writing a great opener is the hardest part of producing a great book.

Now some authors might have this down to a science, or “in the bag” if you will, but how many of you have rewritten your prologue or chapter one? How many have rewritten it five times? Ten times? Twenty?

So yes, I may have been bluntly honest with my comments (and no, no one has attacked me for it, this is just my own nagging conscience), but I do that because I would want the same done to mine. In the hardest of tasks, I want the most truthful, hold-nothing-back criticism you can give me. Because that’s what it’ll take to get my ‘script into an agents hands, into a spine, and into the hands of a fellow lover-of-words. Hopefully thousands of them.

Whew, I got a little worked up over this. Didn’t expect to, but I did. There you have it. My disclaimer. Are you hooked?


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Six

Haha... I won't be doing this every week, but in the good-spirit of mimicry, I'll update this way this week.

1. I revisited my interest in Dark Angel, watching both seasons last week and decided to order the three DA books that came out after the third season didn't get picked up by FOX. The end of the second season left so many open holes. The books have mixed reviews, so I'll decide for myself. I'm thinking the cause for some of the negativity is in the transistion between TV show and literary medium. Fans of the show likely have expectations that couldn't be met in book form. We'll see. I'll have to update my impressions after reading.

2. I'm taking down Page Me Choice. It's a fun activity, but between Critique Circle, this blog, my main writing, and life, I'm not finding the drive to keep Choice running smoothly. I may use the premise I had for Choice in a later story/novel idea.

3. I'm about halfway through Jim Butcher's Furies of Calderon and so far it's great. In the field of epic fantasy, he's already earned a gold star from me. Mainly, I think this is because Butcher's writing style balances the focus on multiple characters, so much so that I can't surely say which are main characters and which are secondary. I care about many characters equally, which is rare. I love it.

4. Tonight I indent do return to the writing of Snatch. More on that later.

5. Washington was hit with furious winds, rain, and warm temps, all of which contributed to the removal of the precious snow I need to go boarding. *cry* Oh well, next weekend I'm headed to Oregon on a snowboarding trip with my fam. Yay!

6. I see why most people stick with five. ;) Actually, life is generally going well. That should work... How goes it for you?