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How Voice Is Helping Me Save My Story

Sara General

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about voice. What is a writer’s voice? To me, it's the honest, pure tone that flows from my innermost imagination, the very center of my being when I am my least inhibited and my most inspired. When I picture it, I see this lovely cloud of swirling mist, speckled with silver and gold, purples and blues and greens and oranges. Writer voice to me is almost like magic—with it, you can create entire worlds. It’s amazing. And it can be really hard to find—at least for me.


I’m editing another draft of The Fortune Teller’s Daughter, which is a book I started writing in August 2015. Interestingly, the scene that prompted the entire book is no longer even in it (which might give you some indication of where I’m at in the editing process). I hope to finish editing this draft by the end of July and up until today—I didn’t think I was going to make that goal. Here’s why…


I’ve learned a lot by writing 500 words every day. I’ve learned to keep stories fresh and vibrant, because they feel fresh and vibrant when I’m returning to them every day. At the same time, I’ve learned a little bit more about how to create deep point of views, how to blast filter words and how to do more showing than telling. My newer work bears the fruit of all this experience and learning—my older work, not so much. This makes it difficult to go back and edit something that was written with less practiced skills. To be honest—it’s caused a real struggle. I find myself questioning whether or not I’m editing out the voice of my book and trying to stop that from happening while still addressing what needs to be addressed.


Another difficulty, is that the last few books I’ve written have been in the first person—which was definitely not what I was doing in this book, so making the shift back into third person has been something of a challenge. (As an aside, my main strategy for addressing this has been to read third person books when I’m editing third person novels and vice versa for first person. It’s worked well, so far.)


And at times, I’ve experienced a sense of despair about the whole thing—wondered if I ought to just go back and rewrite the entire book? But I don’t want to do that. I remember the feeling I had when I first wrote this one. I loved the story. I loved my main character. I loved how right and good the story felt. I don’t want to throw that away—not when I don’t have to.


What I do have to do—is find a way to reconnect to my story. And that brings me to back to voice. Voice is so important. It’s the only thing that is ‘me’. And as I grow as a writer, by reading and writing more, it’s the one thing that will truly define my writing from that of others. I have to trust that voice. I have to let it shine. And while, yes, I am going to learn new things about writing—I can’t abandon older projects that I’ve injected so much of my voice into just because I’ve learned new things. I have to finish them. And the thing that makes me forge through and not abandon them where they stand is the fact that they’re filled with my voice—filled with love and care and passion for the story I was seeing when I wrote it.


Being able to connect to that spirit is exactly what’s going to help me finish my older work. And oh, do I ever want to finish it! I wrote four books in the last year and I genuinely cherish each of them. But it’s time to get focused. To move those stories from my computer to my bookcase so that they don’t get lost in the shuffle of all the new ideas that are coming. So that is my new goal for the end of 2015—to get each of these stories to a publishable state by the end of the year. Focusing. Finishing. Here’s hoping I can make it happen!


Happy writing everyone!