Thursday, January 05, 2012
Happy New Year Rambling, Part The Third
In the spirit of honesty and authenticity, I should probably mention that as I start this entry, I have no earthly idea what I'd originally meant to say here. Which means the new year is truly here, and back to work. Easily done, though I think I short circuited part of my brain by transcribing and tweaking seventeen pages on Tuesday.
Today's "voice" graphic is here because A) I vaguely remember that voice had something to do with the planned post that got nibbled to death by ducks, B) my brain fritzes out as soon as I open Photoshop Elements, and C) I can turn this around. Probably need more caffiene first, though.
Right now, I'm wrangling with convincing my laptop that it is signed into Rhapsody, and my brain that I do know how to do this writing thing. Or in today's case, re-writing. The scene I'm working on today wasn't there in the last draft of this ms, but it works better than what was there in the first draft, is truer to the characters, and heightens the impact of what is to happen next, so this is a good thing. I'll grumble and I'll wrangle and dear writer friends, you will probably hear me whine, but it's all part of the process. Life and love can both be problematic, so I can't see writing about either topic being without a few bumps in the road.
So. This voice thing. Ask a dozen writers what voice is and you might get a dozen different answers (or a dozen "I dunno" answers, possibly at the same time) but we know it when we encounter it. Give Meat Loaf, Weird Al, Luciano Pavarotti, Paul McCartney, Toby Keith and James Blunt the same song to sing, stick them all on the same playlist and hit shuffle. Doesn't matter if it's "Unchained Melody" or "I'm a Little Teapot" or anything else one might like. There's not the slightest chance that the playlist will sound like the same guy singing the same song. The words might be the same, the arrangements and melodies the same, but it's the unique voice of each singer that's going to make the difference. Not going to mistake Loretta Lynn for Lady Gaga, that's for sure, and if you bought an Osmonds CD and found HIM inside, (or vice versa) even if the song list were exactly the same, it would not be the same listening experience.
It's the same with writers. Bertrice Small and Lynn Kurland both write historical romance novels, for example. Ms. Small is known for her love scenes, while Ms. Kurland is known for leaving the bedroom door modestly closed. Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle, but I have read wonderful books by both, and by a wide variety of others. I've always known I was hardwired for historical romance; even as a wee little princess, I was drawn to fairy tales and anything that took place in a century prior to the 20th. Even then, I was predisposed to stories with a hero, a heroine, and a happily ever after, so it's no surprise where I landed as a writer. The harder the road the characters had to get to their HEA, the better, and I still hold to that today. A college friend, after reading my first ms (thankfully retired to the back of the closet, for the good of all mankind) dubbed it "How To Totally Screw Up A Character's Life in Five Hundred Pages or More." She wasn't that far off.
My favorite quote from the Dr. Who episode, "Blink," gets trotted out a lot when I talk about voice, but "sad is happy for deep people" resonates with me. If somebody's heart breaks, if the floor drops out from below one of my main characters, if they lose everything they've ever counted upon to get through their world, then there's a great story in how they get back from that. The lower the valley, the higher the mountaintop. I like the high drama, the heights and the depths, and as a favorite writing teacher used to tell us, if the stars are real, then the mud had better be as real. Bad things happen in life, even to good people, but it's possible to get through that and not only survive but triumph. That's going to come through in any story I tell, and I'm fine with that. Bring it on, New Year. I'm ready.