Monday, September 30, 2013

My Elusive Voice . . . a Book Update . . . And a Cool Picture.

Hey Everybody!

So here's a post with some thoughts about my writing—namely, how my style tends to replicate the style that I am reading. 

But first, if any of you are following the progress of my book (tentatively named Never Upon A Time), here's a little update: 

I recently gave a copy of my manuscript to a friend who is an English teacher and works with students that are around the age my book would be geared toward. She just let me know that she read through it once, to get an overall feel for the story, and is now about to go through it again in order to edit the novel. 

She said she liked the book and was excited that I had written a novel (until I asked her to read it, I had only told my wife that I was working on a book). But she also pointed out that the book followed an odd POV. For the most part I was going for Third Person Limited (you narrate the book as someone watching the story play out, and you can see the thoughts of one primary character), but I sometimes wrote chapters in Third Person Omniscient (you narrate the book as someone watching the story play out, and you can see the thoughts of all characters). This was leading to some confusion, especially since I was switching fairly rapidly between characters thoughts, so it's something I'll probably take a close look at when I go through the book for a fifth time. On an up note, though, she told the plot line to her eight grade class, and she let me know they seemed intrigued. 


(Here's a cool pic for no reason in particular. It's an HDR shot of my dining room, with a ink outline filter)

Okay, enough of that. Now for what I was getting at earlier in the post, the part about my recent thoughts about writing. 

Recently I perused through some of the short stories I've written throughout the year, and I couldn't help but notice a large difference in style from story to story. At first I found this odd, being I am the author who wrote all the tales, but then I thought about the books I was reading as I wrote the stories. And I realized the tone of my writing was imitating the tone of the books I was reading. 

For example, I was reading a lot of Neil Gaiman early in the year. He tends to write long sentences that have multiple tangents which are inserted via commas. Like this one from American Gods:

     "Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives."

And then I was re-reading one of my favorite series, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series (starting with The Golden Compass), and I found myself using paragraph-long sentences to describe scenes that often follow this pattern:
   
     Say something about a character approaching a setting then insert colon: then write a ton of stuff about the scene; separating each thought with a semi-colon; using a lot of vivid and creative imagery.


At first I was a little worried when I realized my writing was pin-balling around to match whatever it was I was reading, but I've recently heard that this is a fairly common phenomenon, and it mainly shows that you, as an author, are making observations of what you enjoy in other writers and using those observations to become who you are. And you're voice will stop behaving like Peter Pan's shadow the more you write!

So . . . anyone else experience this? 

-Daniel