Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wannabe Writers #3

Wannabe Writers is a new meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore how much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer. So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.

I'm going to be out for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP Monday. :-)

Where I am in the writing process:  I just finished my 2nd round of edits on Novel #1, and I'm about to go back through with someone's critiques in hand. Also, to partially alleviate last week's problem of my main character's likeability (and to make it more YA-ish), I'm going to chop 5 years off of her age, which I think will really help. As for Novel #2, I'm plugging away at it, and it's going really well.

My current problems:  My problem this week is impatience. I want to send out queries now and submit my first page to contests now and don't want to wait to make the manuscript better. I know, though, that in the long run, a well-written, completely edited manuscript will serve me better than a half-revised one if ever I am asked to supply it to an agent. How do you guys keep from jumping the gun?

Question(s) this week: Voice? Also, how do I make my other characters sound different? I write in 1st person and that voice belongs to my main character. But the problem is that all the other characters are starting to sound just like her. Obviously, I try to make each secondary character have a different personality, likes, dislikes, special phrases they often use, etc. But I still feel like I'm writing a story with 20 different me's here. What do I do to separate them?

Wow, are we writing the same novel here? I was just thinking about the effort involved in making my characters sufficiently different. I don't know how good I am at giving them distinct personalities, but what I try to do is this (and it might sound a little crazy):  I talk to them. I have full-on conversations about daily stuff in my life with an imaginary character, and they answer me. I think it works!

Sometimes I'll get several different characters in on this imaginary conversation to make sure that they all have distinct personalities and kind of bounce the conversation from one of them to another to see how they react in my head. I also find myself imitating the characters as I write them, shaking my head for a peppy girl in one novel and giving some attitude to my laptop for another to get me in the right mindset.

Now that you all think I'm nuts...let's move on to voice. Ugh, voice. I got so sick of hearing about this in my English classes in high school. This is another one of those things that I don't know that I'm good at anymore (though I think I am), but I can share what I do to try and give my novels my voice. Basically, I write like I talk. Okay, I'm a southerner, so I do try to keep the "y'all"s and "fixin' to"s and "well, I'll be!"s out of it, but if I have a strange way of explaining something or rationalizing something in my head, it ends up in the novel. I'm an engineer and we have a weird way of thinking about things anyway--it's somewhat more analytical--and so instead of just describing colors and textures, I try to delve into construction and practicality, the things I would consider if describing something to a friend.

I hope this gives all you other aspiring writers some ideas, and I can't wait to see what y'all have to say about this week's question. I'll be around at your posts as soon as I get the chance!


  1. Well I think that there really isn't a complete cure for your problem other then knowing that it will be better in the end and just waiting.

  2. I know that feeling of wanting to jump the gun. I can't wait to send out quiery letters and to try to find an agent. I just want to know if I'm good or not. After you spend so many hours at this, I bet everyone feels that way. I guess just try to hang in there.

  3. This was awesome to read. Posts like these are my favorite! Good luck with your novels! I'm struggling to actually make myself work on mine write now. There are so many easy-to-use excuses out there... Ugh.