NaNoWriMo Isn’t Proper Writing

I’ve heard this many times and often with some venom behind it. Of course it isn’t true. If you write then you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting studiously in a library or running naked in Bermuda, if you write, you are a writer. And please note here, those of you who’ve produced several thousand words so far, if you do it, you are it, no ifs, no buts, and no Aspiring.

But, the mind splurge of Nano produces some truly awful work, you say? Well, yes, yes it does. It produces first drafts, which as Hemingway always reminds us are…horse apples. But some of those pieces of work will be edited and revised and turned into really great work. Some won’t. Some people have the temerity to enjoy the whole experience and miss out on the angst altogether. Some people just aren’t ready to be edited. 

But, some of them are so proud of sub-standard stuff, you wail. Well, yes. Of course they are. So were you before you learned to handle an adverb. You can’t tell me that you haven’t looked back at your early writing and cringed, properly cringed. That’s okay though, because you were learning. And that is what all of the Nano writers are doing without any concern for the level of craft they have reached. They are all learning. And they are writing. And that’s a good thing.

Some people don’t want to be told they are anything less than a genius – those people will learn slowly regardless of the task.

Other people seek out the errors and hunt them down with a scary level of commitment, because they know that they are never above a mistake. –  those you need to watch, because they will get there. They will get better. They will be good. And one day the Aspiring Author, will be an Author.

None of this should rattle any Writer’s cage. You know why? No one else in this world is you. No one has your thoughts, your life experience, Your voice. We can look around at other people and say, he’s not this or she’s not that. That is just so easy. But we’re not in a race with them. Writers are always in competition with themselves and on their own journey. Our own journey.

So let other people be….Not You

And show me what you can do.

 

Lost your Voice?

When you first start editing your own work you might check your spelling, grammar and punctuation, but some of the first questions that your Editor will ask involve Voice and tone. What exactly do they mean by Voice and tone?

It really is very simple. Just think about your own voice, your speaking voice, barring infirmity or accident we all have one and it is uniquely ours. I imagine that family members can tell you from a relative by voice alone. We recognise each other by voice and our voice can tell the world a great deal about us. Where were we born? Have we travelled? What about education, class, ambition? We all make assumptions about those based on voice. That is our speaking voice.

Now imagine your Writing voice. It is just as uniquely yours and it tells the world about you but instead of pitch and lilt we talk about language choice and phrasing. Your writing voice is the expression of your personality on the page and we make the same assumptions about personality and upbringing from grammatical and language choices.

Now consider Tone. We are all used to the idea of tone of voice and none of us would consider using the same tone with a toddler and with our bank manager. The tone of our voice needs to be appropriate to the situation whether we are speaking or writing. This is why a seasoned editor might raise a question mark over the tone of your writing.

Things become more complex when you introduce characters into your writing. Each of these characters will have a Voice and during the course of your writing several tones. It is the job of the Editor to make sure that the Voices of your characters remain consistent throughout your work. To make sure that they do not slip. Any voice slippage should be marked on your manuscript for correction.

Voice slippage is a very common error in even the most seasoned writer’s work. It usually simply means that instead of responding or writing as our character we have become involved in our work and are writing as ourselves. Easily done.

So as you see, there is no mystery to Voice and a good editor is there to make sure that you never lose yours.