Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On POV and Voice

(X-posted from the Tri Mu Blog)

Voice is one of those frustrating parts of writing that you either have, or have yet to develop. There is no magic formula to finding your voice. You just have to write, and write, and write, until your voice transforms into something that is yours.

What is voice? Well, it is not only what you say, but also how you say it. Voice is your word order. It is your punctuation. Your paragraphing. It is what determines how the reader "hears" your words in their head.

When I was a teenager, I wrote mostly high fantasy. (I didn't finish said high fantasy novels, but that's a different story.) These grand adventure stories where all told from the third person point of view and often contained several view point characters. (Third person POV uses the pronouns 'He/She/It', for those readers who might be unfamiliar.) During my many years of crafting these tales, I never truly developed my voice. Oh, I'm sure I started, and every writing has 'voice' of some sort--it just isn't always pleasant to read.

In my early twenties, I switched from high fantasy to urban fantasy, and consequently from 3rd person to 1st with only one view point character. (1st person uses the pronoun 'I'.) This is when my voice started to emerge, and since then, my voice has become, well, what it is today. The way I write (hopefully) compliments what I write about, and fits with my characters and genre.

That leads me to today's issue. I am currently taking a one week break from the first draft of HB2 to work on a short story. This short is high fantasy--likely the only high fantasy I've written in the last five years--and while I am absolutely loving the story, I've been slightly worried that my voice isn't working for the story. I stepped back today and really looked at the words I had on the page, contemplating the idea that I perhaps couldn't write in the sub-genre anymore. Then I realized I was writing in first person (probably because I almost always write in first.) I switched to third, and while the voice in the story is still undeniably mine, it works better for the story. It is such a small change, but a change that makes me reexamine how I say things. It works. Reinvigorated, I hope to finish the story tonight, and if everything goes as planned, to have it shined up by the end of the week and ready to be sent out.

Have you ever written a story (or chapter/character/ect) and realized something was in discord with the work and your voice? What did you do?

Have you ever switched between first and third person POV just to see how it would change the writing? If you did, what did you discover?

Happy hump day everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Reviews

Reviews have been trickling in here and there since Once Bitten was released, but I wanted to point out a couple that brightened my day recently.

Kristy Bock with said:
"For every bit of danger there is a balance of humor. Kita is a character that will go on living in the memory of the readers. She's not your every day house cat! This was just a perfect adventure to escape the confines of reality for a little while."
(Read More)

Mandi with Smexy Books Said:
"One of the best aspects of this book is that Kalayna Price leaves you asking (maybe begging a bit) for more."
(Read More)

J. Kay with < J. Kay's Book Blog said:
"This dark fantasy is tinged with humor that will curl your toes in delight.
ONCE BITTEN is book one of the Haven series. Although it has a solid ending, readers will be left begging for more."
(Read More)

Thanks everyone! Glad you enjoyed it. ^_^ (If you've reviewed Once Bitten, I'd love a link to read the post.)

Well, have a nice day everyone. For those of you headed out to the RT convention, have a safe trip and tons of fun!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Field Trip!

I'm going on a research field trip this weekend. A research trip some might consider rather bizarre.

As I've probably mentioned in earlier posts, the second book in my Haven series will delve deeper into my vampire society. Consequently, this means more scenes set in vamp businesses such as the club Death's Angel (which was briefly visited in Once Bitten.) I have a good picture in my head of what Death's Angel looks like and what type of clientele are likely to frequent the club, but immersion in unique scenes and settings is always useful. When a friend mentioned planning to attend a fetish dance/rave occurring in a neighboring city, I quickly volunteered to go with.

So, a handful of us will be making a night of it. I've dug out my big black boots and my corset top, I created a dreadfall headpiece, and I borrowed makeup in colors I haven't worn in years--I think I'm ready. I've been to parties in the past, but I get the feeling this will be like nothing I've been to before. The theme is Ragnarok--the end of the world--and I can't wait. I'm typically more comfortable in silver studs under strobe lights than doing the 'cha cha' or the electric slide in a cocktail dress, so I plan to get out on the dance floor and let loose a little. But, the writer in me will be right under the surface. Observing. Taking notes. With luck, I'll come back to my writing with interesting new ideas.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hurry up and Wait

(x-posted on the Tri Mu Blog)

This is not the post I had planned for yesterday. In fact, the last twenty-four hours have been completely unplanned and a little on the insane side. After a couple months of all things in my personal sphere of the publishing world being rather silent, a symphony orchestra playing Beethoven's 5th symphony showed up yesterday afternoon.

Is this good news? Oh yes. But it is still rather startling.

Out of nowhere there are things to consider. There is a scramble to accomplish a lot all at once (because, of course, everything needs to be done now.) There are people to contact, decisions to make, and my heart seems to be one beat behind and struggling to catch up. By the middle of next week, I'm sure this will all be over. Even right now, there are waves in which I am bustling followed by what feels like a drawn out period in which I'm waiting. That's just the way it goes with publishing (in my experience.)

This is the hurry up and wait of publishing. Welcome to the ride.

(I promise I'll share more as soon as I can. Stay tuned!)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Moving along

If you follow my twitter, you've probably noticed that things have been crazy in my parts recently. I traveled for the last part of last week/ first part of this week, which did a number on my wordcount. (Writing while traveling is rather hit or miss.) But, HB2 is moving right along.

I've passed the first turning point now, and I'm currently completely immersed in a subplot (there will be some cutting back of what is on the page with this one.) Things are quickly spiraling from bad to worse for Kita and gang, and unfortunately for Kita, things will only be getting more complicated for her. She has a lot of hard decisions to make in this book, decisions that will really force her to stretch herself and mature. She hasn't completely rebelled and walked off the page yet, so I'm counting that as good. ^_~

Current wordcount:

34002 / 90000 words. 38% done!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

With Support

(X-Posted from the Tri Mu Blog.)

Last week I leaned on the group hard.

As a whole, I believe in writing a first draft in a void. I like getting the story all on paper fast, and then going back and seeing what I have later (and fixing the massive issues that are likely to be there.) But, recently I’ve been stuck in a never ending scene. When I started writing the scene, I loved it. Then somewhere I lost hold of the scene and it spiraled out of control. I knew where it had to go, but the characters weren’t doing what I wanted—or anything productive, for that matter—and I was getting bogged down. My instinct in such a situation is to briefly summarize what needs to happen in the scene and move on. Doing so surely would have been better for my wordcount, but this particular scene was the first major turning point, and while the core of my story is planned out, many points hinged on how I handled this scene. So, I did something I’ve never done before—I sent 1k of the raw first draft to my fellow Tri Mus to get their take on it. My hope was that they could look through the mess of writing to help me figure out where the scene was falling apart. After a flurry of discussion, they helped me pinpoint where (and to whom) changes needed to be made, and (though not suddenly—I only wish that were true) the scene began to work once again. Oh I still struggled with it, but the scene did not fight back quite so hard.

There are lots of opinions out there about writer/critique groups. Critique partnership is a very special kind of relationship. Many people prefer to work with near strangers as there is a certain amount of detachment needed to evaluate a work honestly. Some people have trouble working with strangers as they have no idea how their critique will be received or they receive critiques they do not know how to take/interpret. There is sometimes a fear of critique partners eradicating a writer’s voice. I have heard of groups being torn a part by cruel critiques which make the writer feel stupid and give up hope. Or, in the reverse, groups turning stagnant because of too much ego stroking and not enough honest criticism.

The Modern Myth Makers started as strangers with a common goal, and grew to be friends through our writing. I think that we are, first and foremost, a group of writers gathered to support each other. When one member is procrastinating, we encourage her to write (or maybe we just badger her.) Blocked or stuck? We sit around as a think tank, talking it out. Having one of those “I suck and nothing I write should ever be seen by anyone with half a brain” days? We offer reassurances and an ego stroke. Sometimes the support needed is for the group to point out the big glaring logic jumps in a WIP that we might have been ignoring, or to give each other the hard truth during critique, and we do that too. This weekend what I needed was to sit down and talk out what was in my head (verse what was on my page) with people who had ‘fresh eyes’ as I had been staring at the words far too long.

It’s not easy to find a writing group, and it isn’t what everyone needs (either at this point in their writing journey, or possibly ever,) but if you feel like you need fresh eyes to take your writing on to the next level, I highly suggest looking for a critique partner/group. Not every fit will be perfect. I tried a couple groups, some in person, some online, and partnered with a couple other writers before the Tri Mu was formed. For various reasons, none of the first groups/partnerships worked out for me (though I made some wonderful writer friends during that time.) If you’ve read our history, you know the Tri Mu formed after several of us met during NaNoWriMo. So, if you are interested in finding a critique group, or just forming a support group of writers, go out and look for writers in your area. Or look online. Don’t be afraid to set up ‘tester’ type relationships, and don’t feel bad about backing out if it doesn’t work for you (but also don’t feel bad if your test CP backs out.) Take a chance. A little extra support is nice.