I’ve just learned something I need to do, or stop doing, when I’m trying to flesh out my character and find her voice. I need to stop reading British mysteries. It’s doesn’t work well when trying to write a contemporary 17-year-old American girl. The MC in the novel I just finished is alternately a 15-year old girl in Cornwall in 1931, and then an 85-year old woman in London in 2003. The storyline jumps forward and backward in time a lot. Anyway, while I’ve been on vacation, I’ve been writing and reading, and what I’ve been reading is bleeding into my character’s voice, as well as my own. I used the word “ghastly” to describe the huge ugly cacti that we saw all around this island, as we were on a bus taking us to a beach excursion. I wasn’t trying to sound British, it just came out! My husband looked at me funny, “Ghastly? Since when do you use that word?” I don’t. Normally. And the MC in my novel would never use it. I realized I’ve been having a harder than normal time writing in a close 3rd person that sounds anything like an American teenage girl. Good thing I also brought a YA book to read. And maybe I need to hang around the cruise ship’s hot tub more. Although, with all those half-naked teenagers packed in there, it’s definitely hormone soup.
Does anyone else have a hard time developing an authentic voice when you are immersed in reading a different genre?
Every spring I think, This year I’m growing a garden. And I try. Last year? TONS of cherry tomatoes that I picked off the vine for breakfast, a few green beans and peppers and a big mess of potatoes.
Growing a garden is like writing a book–a lot of hard work. But it’s worth it. Writing just the right word is kinda like eating those warm tomatoes. You can’t believe YOU did that. Well, with help of course.
Right now I am in a hard place in my YA murder mystery. It’s like putting together a puzzle with weird edges. But when I read some of the words I think, Maybe I can do this.
The truth is, most people who want to write books never finish. It IS hard. If we rejoice in the small things, the tasty bits, there will be more joy in the work.
And One More Thing
I just made up a word. Slag bottom.
Or so I thought.
What word did you think YOU made up?