This week we’ve been talking about dialogue and voice, but we haven’t really talked about the most important part–being true to your own voice.When I edit other writers’ works, I always get worried about editing out their voice, their style, who they are in the world and on the page.
You must promise me that you won’t ever let an editor do that to you.
When my first book came out in 2007, one reviewer talked about how authentic the voice was because I was such a young writer straight out of high school.
Spoiler: I wasn’t. I had a twelve-year-old.
When I got an award for that same book, the governor’s wife presented it and said, “Carrie! How lovely! What high school do you go to?”
Do I go to? Present tense go to?
That was—um—an awkward ceremony where I’m pretty sure what I blurted, “What—um—no? I’m old. I’m old!”
But my voice? It isn’t. And my characters’ voices? They usually aren’t either.
They often come from my New England poor (with fancy relatives) background. I grab things from my Portuguese family and my widowed mother who was brilliant and one of my dad’s Staten Island Jewish background. That’s all part of what formed me and what formed my writing style and my speaking style, too.
That isn’t always cool—especially in the world of poetry in the 1990s and early 2000s. It works great for sports reporting though.
Sometimes though, I heard that my voice wasn’t quite sophisticated enough. That’s usually code for classism or some other kind of -ism.
It’s hard to talk about writing about dialogue and character voice and authorial voice without talking about hostility.
If you are from a “disadvantaged” class or systematically oppressed group, and you write in your own language and your own way there are always going to be people who either:
- Won’t read you.
- Be scathing about how your voice is not rich enough or lyrical enough or something enough.
You have to make some choices. You can either care. Or not. You can either push down that authentic voice and conform or not.
I hope you’ll choose the not even though that’s harder and tougher.
But your voice, your sentence structure, your word choice and your style don’t need to be fancy or one ethnic/racial/class/religion/sexuality/gender to deserve to be heard.
You deserve to be heard. And your characters do, too.
There is great strength in diverse stories and diversity in voice and experience. It’s something that enriches all of us, pulls us closer to empathy and heart, resonates with its truth. I’m betting that’s the kind of writer you want to be and those are the stories that you want to write. And I’m absolutely rooting for you.
NEW BOOK ALERT!
I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.
Here’s what it’s about:
A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.
A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.
And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.
What would you do to make a difference?
After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.
Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.
Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED series, Saint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.
BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.