28 April 2011
26 April 2011
|One of the trickiest things to get a handle on as a writer is literary or writer's voice. It's also one of the most crucial because readers and editors love distinctive voices. Writer's voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice can be considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc. Of course, technically, every author has a voice.|
All my favorite authors have very strong and distinctive voices, how about yours? Let's look at some specific examples to help us get a handle on this topic. From Blackout by Connie Willis:
I knew I didn't like Eddritch, Colin thought.
"He did, however, mention your repeated absences. And the failing mark you got on your last essay."
"That's because Beson made me write it on this book, The Impending Threat of Time Travel, and it was total rubbish. It said time travel theory's rot, and historians do affect events, that they've been affecting them all along, but wehaven't been able to see it yet because the space-tiem continuum's been able to cancel out the changes. But it won't be able to forever, so we need to stop sending historians to the past immediately and--"
"I am fully acquinted with Dr. Ishiwaka's theories."
I can identify Willis' writing with only a few sentences because her voice is so distictive. It's very in media res, almost stream-of-consciousness, with lots of gerunds.
From One for the Money by Janet Evanovich:
...Joe Morelli came into the bakery where I worked every day after school, Tasty Pastry, on Hamilton. He bought a chocolate-chip cannoli, told me he'd joined the navy, and charmed the pants off me four minutes after closing, on the floor of Tasty Pastry, behind the case filled with chocolate eclairs.
The next time I saw him, I was three years older. I was on my way to mall, driving my father's Buick when I spotted Morelli standing in front of Giovichinni's Meat Market. I gunned the big V-8 engine, jumped the curb, and clipped Morelli from behind, bouncing him off the front right fender. I stopped the car and got out to assess the damage.
He was sprawled on the pavement, looking up my skirt. 'My leg.'
'Good,' I said. Then I turned on my heel, got into the Buick, and drove to the mall."
Evanovich is also easy to identify. In her case, she uses simple language, specific details, funny names e.g. Tasty Pastry, and lots of humor. Note, too, even with such short excerpts we can differentiate these voices from one another.
For another example, a while back I discussed Kelly Link's distinctive voice: Spec Fic Tools II: Voice.
So, the question is: how do we cultivate our literary voice? I think free-writing is effective. Try writing without your internal editor and see what comes out. :) Good luck!
19 April 2011
We've been going through slush with a vengeance. Hhm...that came out wrong. Rest assured, no vengeance is directed at writers. We direct gratitude at writers: thanks for submitting! So, uh, we've been working hard at finishing slush and notifying writers if they made it to hold-for-voting.
We scheduled our Production Meeting (which, with this bunch is tricky). We've bought the drugs and booze. Oops! No, we didn't do that. We would never do that! (Gremlin Editor wrote that.)
We're working on cover art and our special features. Oh dear, I need to finish my assignment... Maybe I better get back to work on that.
The bottom line is hold-for-voting authors will hear back from us with "yeah" or "nea" at the beginning of May.
And a new fabulous issue of Electric Spec will hit the streets(?), electrons(?) on May 31!
14 April 2011
13 April 2011
12 April 2011
Writers--especially speculative fiction writers--create whole people, worlds, and cultures complete with their relationships and problems, out of nothing. That's power! Making something out of nothing! Okay... nothing but imagination, research, blood, sweat, tears, and lots of hard work. :)
But it is significant. And there's something so inherently human about telling stories, we've been doing it since there've been humans. Can't you just picture the cavemen and women sitting around the campfire, telling the story of 'the one that got away'? :)
When words are flowing onto the page, when one is possessed by The Muse, it's like a writer goes to another place, a world or zone of creativity. Of course that doesn't happen all the time, but that's one of the goals of a writer--getting lost in the zone.
When it happens, ...Joy.
So, how about you? Do you ever make it to The Zone? :) Any tips for getting there?
06 April 2011
05 April 2011
Ambiguity at the end of movies can be very good. Ambiguity at the end of short stories I am more ambivalent about; I would have to take that on a case-by-case basis. One thing that absolutely does not work in movies or short fiction is internal inconsistency. Sadly, some recent movies may not be internally consistent. While enjoyable, The Adjustment Bureau (also influenced by Philip K. Dick's 1954 "Adjustment Team"!) doesn't seem entirely consistent. Do people have free will or are they controlled by The Adjustment Bureau's plan? I don't want to give anything away but if this plot was submitted to ElectricSpec, I'm not sure it would succeed.
A more serious consistency issue may be associated with The Source Code. Again, I don't want to give anything away because this apocalyptic Groundhog Day is enjoyable. But it's unclear if activating the source code brings the protagonist in the past to an alterate reality and/or an alternate timeline and what reality/timeline the source code affects. If there are different timelines/realities how can they interact and affect one another? As you may guess from my remarks, this one's a real mind-bender. I would have to say I would've rejected this plot if we'd gotten it in the slush. (If anyone understood the movie, I welcome your comments.)
My advice to ElectricSpec writers is: Make sure your stories are internally-consistent!