Voice is Style, Style is Voice...Titanic Secrets of Successful Writers

Monday, April 19, 2010

Titanic Ramblings - *novel at 275 pgs! or 71,175 wds

You're not gonig to believe this. I am having so much fun writing Curse of the Titanic that I can't wait to get back to it, and that's when you know you're on the right track. I suspect Elmore Leonard, Dean Koontz, Mary Shelley, Michael Crichton, Tess Gerritsen and well you name it would agree. If your having fun with it....keep doing it. That was the advice science fiction author of many years ago, Clifford Simac said to me word for word. Koontz once advised me to "slow down, son...you don't do your best work till you turn fifty anyway!"

Well I never did slow down but I do feel I am writing at my personal best these days. My City for Ransom trilogy I felt was my best stuff...then I yanked out a manuscript that had been gathering dust and rewrote it for like the fortieth time...my magnum opus -- Children of Salem...felt it was my best work to date. Now am working on this novel with its Titanic breadth and feel it is my best work to date....

I guess I need to believe that with each book I am improving and doing my best work, wouldn't you say? Frankly, I think every author at whatever level he or she is working in terms of skill and experience is working at his level best. This is why, as an editor, I can always find something good to say about any manuscript (well almost).

Did you know I have a tendency to ramble? I also like to use my own work as examples here and in my Dead On Writing book from Wordclay and Kindle, paper and ebook respectively. Critics--well two reviewers who read and put the book to use loved it beyond words, while a third reviewers detested it beyond words. It is all subjective but if the guy didn't like it then why not just return it for the 1.99 it sells for; why harp on what he thinks is wrong with the book? In some demented way it seems a lot of amateur reviewers get a real kick out of kicking an author, a psychological feeling of superiority. And he thinks I like the sound of my own voice (well I had better to create a voice, a consistent voice for each of novel one writes.

In point of fact VOICE is the single most definitive element that defines one's style; we soak up stylve via the authorial voice. Bear with me, as we write and rewrite we aim for more and more CONSITENCY of VOICE. We want a voice that does not break with the bond established, a subtle bond between the narrative flow and the reader's ear. I like to think what I am searching for in a narrative voice for a given novel is the authorial voice...the authentic voice for this story. Authentication of sound of the bell you want the story to ring. It has a lot to do with the noise maker you choose--or if you will, the character of your narrator. For instance imagine big James Mitchener relating a dark Noir tale; switch over now to a Fess Parker (Davey Crockett) telling a story, change gears and imagine a tale told by a one-eyed Troll. What will be the center line or consistent level of each speaker's voice? Once a young writer discovers this truth, she can excel and indeed fly.

I swear it is the chief secret of all secrets writers don't know how to keep secret and shouldn't. I began writing in the voice of Mark Twain, a little novel I shaped via research and imitation of Twain entitled Daniel & The Wrongway Railroad. I did another YA years later, Gideon & The Siege of Vicksburg for which I had to find another voice. I chose the voice of historian Shelby Foote but at the time did not know it (seeped in subtlely). So whaat VOICE are you fishing around for?

Now about Curse of the Titanic, I am extremely excited as it is going along quite smoothly; I have both stories rolling well, and the Past Story is in one consistent voice, and the Future Story is in another voice but both are consisted for the authorial control both exhibit. I think that is what I mean...but that is part of it too....finding the right authorial even stentorian voice for the story you wish to tell. The range is endless but as with all writing how do you know what you want until you SEE what you write...then reread, then rewrite, then more reading it over again and rewriting further (more) and extending your command over the voice and your flexibility with this too oft described nebulous matter.

It's not so mysterious as some make it out to be, not really. But it is hugely important and all else hinges on it. You find the voice and you can plug into it anytime anywhere with ease like falling into an alpha state.

Ransom's story in 1912 is told in my most compelling voice with an intent toward finding mystery, intrigue, cliffhanger endings--all told in a controlled manner and taking as much advantage of the speech of the times as I can, remembering that Dialogue Lines belong not to the narrator but to the characters. Dave Buckland's 2020 story is told in the most compelling voice with an intent toward mystery, intrigue, cliffhanger endings (or ditto) -- all told in a separate but equal controlled manner while taking advantage of speech patterns of today and tomorrow, remembering that Dialogue Lines belong to the characters, not the narrator.

When I wrote my first novel it was carefully controlled in another manner, point of view--ONE single point of view -- Daniel's. This is a lot easier to control than multiple POV but I worked up to multiple through single. Today I challenge myself with duo stories going on at once and my challenge is to make the reader want to get back to whichever story he is not in at the moment! I personally never want to write the same book twice, not even in a series, so I find ways to challenge myself and my writing fingers.

It is true -- Curse of the Titanic is at page 275 and that means just over 71,000 words, which is super. I am bearing down on 300 pages. Most of my books come in at or around 400 but this one is moving so fast toward a conclusion in both parallel stories that I think I will be ending it somewhere around 350 pgs. Besides if I am to make my goal of a good, solid rough draft by mid-May, I want to bring it to an end as well. But I don't want to rush it or make it feel rushed or abruptly ended. If I do that some critic or reviewer will nail me for it. If need by the deadline will be extended before the book is rushed. Stay tuned. I am soon going to be asking certain people interested to READ and comment and edit if they like--fix me! Let me know if you'd be interested in being among the first to put eyes on the Titanic...or rather the Curse of the Titanic - a novel that asks the question if Michael Crichton were aboard the Titanic what then?

Hope to see you on Facebook, Twitter, and around the net
Till next time--

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