INTRO BY RICK:
In one of the posts in my series on OPENINGS, I brought up the topic of voice in writing. Voice has two meanings to writers. The first refers to the voice of the piece, and if you look at the many examples I gave of openings, you’ll see nearly as many different voices as there are pieces.
But voice also refers to the writer’s voice. Unlike the piece’s voice–which can change from story to story–a writer’s voice a pretty much a constant. Voice comes from inside the writer: it is both his/her style, personality, outlook, and experiences all rolled into one. It can be as distinctive as a singer’s voice. Once a writer find her voice (and, sadly, not all do), her writing–as this week’s guest author points out–takes on a new dimension.
Marilee Brothers is a former teacher, coach, and school counselor. She lives in Washington State and writes full time. Her books include Castle Ladyslipper, a medieval romance, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best award for romantic suspense, Moonstone, Moon Rise, Moon Spun, and Shadow Moon, the first four books in the young adult paranormal “Unbidden Magic” series. Marilee is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
With that introduction, Scott and I welcome Marilee Brothers to “Write Well, Write To Sell.”
Finding My Voice
I wasted a lot of good years writing depressing poetry about life’s gloomiest and/or wackiest topics. Teenagers meandering down the highway of life searching for answers. My fear of spiders. Lonely old women who drink too much beer. Seriously. Some of it even got published. When I started my first book, a historical romance, I learned something important about myself and, in the process, found my true, authentic voice.
In the beginning, Castle Ladyslipper had the most dreadful, dark and dreary plot one could imagine. Sir Garrick of Hawkwood, my hero, was emotionally damaged, thanks to all the conniving women in his life, starting with his mother. (Why is it always the mother who screws up the son?) The opening scene was a downer of epic proportions. As my heroine, Emma, scurried across the bailey, she heard William, her brother, calling to her from an upstairs window. She looked up to see the poor lad plunge to his death, a victim of over-enthusiastic waving. Is it any wonder I could barely drag myself to the computer each day?
When my output dwindled to nada, I finally realized I was fighting my nature and consequently hated what I was doing. I ditched the first scene and came up with a new recipe.
Step 1– A dash of magic in the form of a crystal, a curse, and a ghost.
Step 2– A castle full of strong, opinionated woman.
Step 3– A hunky, chauvinistic knight who believed women were basically large children and should be treated as such.
Step 4– Mix thoroughly and see what rises to the top. I started to have fun, found my voice, and completed my first book.
Fast-forward two years to my next venture: writing for the young adult market. What does the previous scenario have to do with YA fiction? Only everything. Kids can spot a phony faster than the time it took William to go splat after his plunge from castle window to cobblestone. I try to remind myself of that fact each time I sit down at the computer. As writers, as human beings, we all have to be true to our natures. When we aren’t, we’re fighting a losing battle that manifests itself in stress-related illness and depression as well as incredibly bad writing.
Shakespeare said it best:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the day the night,
Thou canst not be false to any man.”
Please stop by my website: www.marileebrothers.com
and my blog: bookblatherblog.blogspot.com
I’d also like to connect with readers on Twitter, @marileeb and my author page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/marilee.author
Thanks for stopping by, Marilee, and for sharing your wonderful advice.