August 21, 2019– Who are you? Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you don’t know who you are, how are you supposed to find your writing voice?
Your writing voice is different than the narrative you use to tell your story. It’s not third person or first person, it’s much more than that.
Voice is your author style, the quality that makes your writing unique, and which conveys your own attitude, personality, and character. It’s impossible to write a book and not leave a piece of yourself behind. Friends who know me well, know exactly which parts of my manuscript are me. Our tone, choice of words, and punctuation make up our writing voice. It’s pretty consistent, especially when narrating in the third person. Based on these markers, it’s possible to identify the author by reading a selection of their work.
Author voice is not just what we say, but how we stitch together the words and sentences to create a story. Each author has their own unique perception of the world, we have our own biases and beliefs, we have different experiences, and passions. That’s why when my team says to me, “This story has been told before!” I say to them, “But it’s never been told by us.”
What are you holding back from your work? What parts of you aren’t you allowing to shine through your writing? Why are you being so careful with your words and hiding who you are from the world. It’s time to stand up and time to be you. That’s where your power is. Find your voice and use it to shout your story to the masses.
April 18, 2019– As writers, we often think this. It usually happens when we run out of coffee and are staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page while simultaneously banging our head against the desk. Let me be honest, there are a lot of writers out there who ARE better at writing than you. And they’re better than me too. Sometimes it comes down to basic things like sentence structure, plot lines, and good old-fashioned storytelling. Listen, we have to accept the fact that we aren’t as good as we could be and that there is always room for improvement. The point is, what are you going to do about it?
- Start reading more. I’m serious. If you’re not reading, you can’t possibly have the tools or the knowledge to be able to write like you should. Get your hands on anything and keep reading. We know this from literacy studies with kids; the studies show that kids who read more do better in writing and in school. Let’s take a page out of their book (pun totally intended) and read as much as possible.
- Find your weak spots. If you don’t know where your writing sucks, ask someone to tell you. Join a group of professionals or give your manuscript to someone who doesn’t like you. I’m not kidding, the problem with having our work critiqued by family and friends is that they love us and the last thing they want to do is hurt our feelings. Why do you think I’ll never send a manuscript to my mother? Because I could copy the phone book (do these still exist?) and she would say it’s the best thing she’s ever read. You need honest feedback if you want to become a better writer. Once you find your weak spots you can fix them. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.
- Practice won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better. If you’re not writing something every single day, then you’re not serious about becoming a writer. You need to be constantly writing because it will help you refine your craft and find your voice. Practice writing introductions, practice writing characters and plot lines, practice writing endings if these are the points you’re lacking in. Like the post on Monday, it takes approximately 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert. How are you supposed to become an expert if you’re not practicing daily? Listen, you’re never going to be perfect and you’re going to have people who hate your work. But, if you’re willing to take it all in stride and continually improve then you will be successful. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea nor should you be. Your writing voice is as unique as your perspective of the world is. Keep going no matter what.
There are writers who are better than us and there always will be. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you want to do with your life. X LLB
February 4, 2019– A lot of aspiring authors get confused when asked by publishers who their novel is for. It can be tricky to differentiate between middle-grade novels and novels for young adults, so I thought that we would explore that topic today and clear things up.
- For ages 8-12
- Length is 30,000 to 50,000 words
- No profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality. Romance in middle-grade novels is limited to first kiss or crush.
- Age of protagonist is 10-13 (ten for the younger MG and 13 for the older readers)
- Focus on friends, family, and the immediate world of the main character and their relationship to it. The characters react to what happens to them with zero to minimal self-reflection.
- Voice is usually third person.
- For ages 13-18
- Length is 50,000 to 70,000 words
- Profanity, graphic violence, romance, and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowed thought NOT required/necessary.
- Age of protagonist is 14-18 BUT NOT yet in college/university. Young adult protagonists can be 14-15 years old for the younger reader, with safer content aimed at the middle school crowd. For older and edgier young adult protagonists, the can be up to 18.
- Focus on how they fit into the world and what their place is beyond their friends and family. They spend more time discovering who they are and reflecting on the choices they make. They are analytical with the meaning of things.
- Voice is usually first person.
This is a quick and easy way to know which group your novel fits into. Happy writing! X LLB