I've been studying voice. No, I'm not going to be an opera signer, don't worry. I've been trying to figure out what literary critics mean when they say "your writing lacks voice." OK... so how do I get it? Turns out it is one of those things akin to a band's "sound."
I posted the beginning excerpt from my manuscript, Summer, 1992, to a FB critique group. I fantasized that everyone would just have glowing words and praise. Of course, I knew that was a fantasy, and went ahead with it anyway because I need people to tell me what's wrong with it. The general consensus was that I rushed too quickly into the inciting incident before anybody even cared. I suspected that. Others said my MC was too childish, and another a few agreed, saying it was unrealistic, that a teen would never do what I had my character do. OK. I feel ya. One said what I had written was all style and it was distracting. Got it. The last comment I got had some compliments, but also a unique point: my "voice" was week. Eek!
Now, I admit, I've had trouble with the modern girl framing from the beginning. I feel I have plenty of "voice" in the pages of the journal (probably because it is 1st person). Finding a voice in 3rd person is hard. Very hard. Like obsidian rock hard (look it up).
So, I'm revising again. It's not a major revision, but it is a significant revision. I finally figured out a reason why my modern MC wouldn't have asked her mother, the MC from the journal, any questions about her life. Now I have to go back and change things. Again.
I'm tired. But, I know if I do think it will be better. At least that's what I hope. I so wanted to be done with this project 2 months ago, but I just can't let it go. I believe in it, and after all, there's a lot of me in it. I wouldn't give up on my children, right? Even if they get hooked on heroin, which I hope to God they never do. I just read and article about that and you just can never tell.
So I took a bike ride today to the Dollar General in the next town over. In the checkout lane, the lady behind me asked if I had just come back from the beach. "No, I just rode my bike here." I realized later when I came home with my chips, marshmallows, and condensed milk, that my white tank top has orange sunblock stains where the boobs are, and when I wear a pink bikini top underneath is looks see-through. Either that, or I was glistening with sweat after the 5 mile ride in the 90F+ heat.
We're having appetizers for dinner tonight. I've got to go fry up the salmon for the sushi.
Voice and Heat