So last week I said I wanted to talk about something super-important in novel-writing: voice. This week I’m talking about the same thing, and showing an example of a completely different kind of voice.
In YA, you can sometimes read several books in a row all with similar voices. That’s why I love The Spectacular Now–the voice is so unique–and that’s also one of the reasons I adore Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy.
Take this passage:
I’ve been thinking a lot about camping lately, mostly due to this post on one of my favorite blogs (the first part of which I disagree with, by the way–there is nothing wrong with camping at campgrounds), and also due to the fact that it’s coming up on that time of year–my favorite camping experiences have happened in August and September.
So my travel advice for the day: if you ever do a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (and you should) you absolutely must stop in Big Sur. We only had one night there because we were running behind schedule, but we spent it in this tiny adorable cabin at a campground (we didn’t do the real camping thing because we had no time to stop for the supplies) and it was magical and lovely and I wanted to stay there forever. It’s pricey, but beautiful, and I only wish we’d been able to spend more time there.
Today I’m going to be talking about Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun.
You have to read this book.
I almost didn’t write this post, because the writing tip is quite an obvious one. But regardless of how many times we hear it, I still see the passive voice cropping up in otherwise well-written manuscripts–including my own.
So let’s go over this!
We’re heading to the beach this weekend and I cannot wait. Here are three things that interested me this week.
1. If you’re in the throes of querying, you may have encountered the issue of boiling your wonderful novel down into a synopsis. I attempted to do this once, then gave up entirely. Chances are I’ll have to do it at some point though, and to help, I’ll be using this amazing post on synopsis-writing, which I found through my favorite writing blog.
2. Warning: massive wanderlust alert: a self-driven tour through Tanzania.
3. My boyfriend and I are still struggling over where to live. We like our tiny, light-filled Brooklyn apartment, but it’s tiny with no outdoor space. We would love a house in the suburbs, but would not love the commute. This article gave me some things to think about.
Reading: I’m still reading the same thing I was reading last week because it’s 1000+ pages and I unfortunately don’t have unlimited amounts of free time. As expected, it’s terrifying and really good, but it’s actually so terrifying I can’t read it in bed at night. So at the same time, I’m also reading this. Patrick Ness’s other books were the best I’ve read this year so I have high expectations for this.
Watching: I watched this movie while cooking this week, and I really loved it. Highly recommended for anyone, but especially YA lit fans. I think writers can learn a lot from well-written movies.
Listening to: I’m on a Bruce kick. It’s summer, and I’m a Jersey girl at heart. (My favorite song of all time.)
Image found here
So I’ve written a lot about what we can learn from the masterful writers who’ve come before us, focusing mainly on the first 250 words of the manuscript. Today I want to focus on something else: voice.
I wish I was on a beach somewhere, anywhere, instead of in the office today. That is all.
Image taken by me on a beach near Cherbourg, France, March 2007.
It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for a book review!
Today: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
Editing: an essential part of the writing process. From what I can tell, some people love it, and others love to hate it. I personally love editing my own work, taking that raw material and polishing it to a gleaming shine. But like any part of the writing process, editing comes with countless frustrations.
There’s a simple trick I’ve learned through my editing process that I thought I’d share…
It’s been a crazy week for me, in the way I really think that weeks in July should not be. But here are three things (in addition to the image above) that helped get me through it:
1. A list of common mistakes on a novel’s first page (i.e. What Not To Do). Super helpful.
2. This website fills me with crippling longing, and makes me ask myself all these questions again.
3. When Buzzfeed lists make you cry.
Reading: Against my better judgment, I’m reading this. I’m not a horror fan. But I am a Stephen King fan. I know those sentences don’t make sense together. But he’s a fantastic writer with a lot to teach, and reading him always makes my prose stronger. Plus, his stories suck you in like no other. I’m 50 pages in and terrified, but also excited.
Watching: I really only watch TV while cooking these days, so I needed something I could watch while multitasking. People always say great things about Friday Night Lights, but I’m a couple of episodes in and it’s just not grabbing me. Does it get better? Or is this just going to be one of those things where I don’t understand the hype?
Listening to: Jose Gonzalez. This song is particularly lovely.
Amazing image found on this Tumblr