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A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday June 24, 2012

This week, my daughter and I chatted about my writing.  She told me that the first book I ever wrote (unedited, unpublished)  is my best by far.   Honesty, I so appreciate it.  It made me realize something. And that something I have feared might happen, has probably happened.

We each have a unique writing voice. In my first story, mine was compelling, full of emotion--and lacked any stiffness or shallowness brought on by the learning curve of this writing craft.

She asked me if my writing, since, has been for the passion of the story, or trying to adhere to a prescribed writing process? She senses me holding back, mincing words, and not fully fleshing out my characters.  My voice is different... and not in a good way.

Just when I think I've figured something out, I discover that I have at least part of it wrong.

She posted this on my facebook wall.

“I need you to do more than survive. As writers, as revolutionaries, tell the truth, your truth in your own way. Do not buy into their system of censorship, imagining that if you drop this character or hide that emotion, you can slide through their blockades. Do not eat your heart out in the hope of pleasing them.”
― Dorothy Allison

So, I have redirected my focus.  And will now take a deeply emotional journey back inside the story my mother so loved--the same story I sat and read a quickly typed ending (the fourth book in the series) to her while she lay nearly motionless and wordless, during her ten final days spent in hospice.

WIP--working Title: Across the Night Sky

Opening lines:

 
“Love transcends all…death, distance, time.  It captures a soul as surely and as silently as time captures the stars… 

May 19th
My volunteer counselor, Rayanne, thinks that trying a different approach than the doctors and therapists tried might make a difference.  She wants me to keep a journal--this journal, of my dreams, and the thoughts and feelings I have about them.  That by putting it on paper it will help me to realize I was never abducted by aliens, that the dreams are not memories of where I was for two years, and not the answer to my missing child.  I think she’s the only real friend I have.  She wants me to take control of my life so that I’m never institutionalized again."

This will be my story until its rewritten, correcting POV issues and overwriting issues, but maintaining the passion that flowed from mind to keyboard in the original draft.

Tall order?  :-)  You bet.  But I feel good about it.

Visit other talented sixers, here


36 comments:

  1. Oh my! Bravo.. not just the 6, but recapturing your voice. Yeah, writing rules can just suck the life right out of a novel sometimes. Don't use adverbs, avoid cliches at all cost, passive voice is lazy, purple prose is...

    Hmm... no purple prose is just awful, flowery petals of moist love. ACK!!! LOL... I'm also currently doing a massive rewrite of an old story that was pure magic but that now requires much babying. Still... I realize as I edit, the magic is still there. Good luck with yours. :)

    Great 6!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I am still learning, lol, I just looked up the definition of "purple prose". Now I know and will probably try to avoid it, lol...I don't think I'm much a flowery person regards writing ;-)

      Thanks for visiting--and good luck on your 14 year old manuscript. :-)

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  2. Your six this week is great, but I think the revelation you have had is even better. Kudos to your daughter for speaking up. Write for yourself, the rest will fall into place when later during the editing process.

    Good luck :)

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Jess. Sometimes I think that writing is just like so many other things--if we are wise, we never stop learning, never close our minds to discovering a different way. It was a revelation! Your choice of words was perfect. :-)

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  3. I LOVE that opening. I'm hooked. Well done! :)

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    1. Oh, thanks, Jessica! (BIG smile on my face) :-)

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  4. Teresa, great opening. I *love* that you're accepting your daughter's challenge and going back to what you first loved about writing. Always believe in yourself.

    Your story could be a typical "woman has been told she's crazy but finds out it was all true" sort of cliche, but I'm betting it's more interesting than that. Please do post more excerpts.

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    1. Thank you, Owllady! It was humbling to realize how I had lost my way.

      I sure will try to have it not be a typical tale. I have an aversion toward Mary Sues and Gary Stus.

      If you see a cliche, please, point it out to me...we are so blind to our own work :-)

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  5. I think all of us writers have that fear. In a way, it's inevitable. As we learn more about the craft, the raw edges get smoothed away, so how to keep the spark? An interesting discussion and a good six.

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    1. Thanks, Skye. It's reassuring to know I'm not alone in this :-)

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  6. Oh, definitely. This is a great story and a great voice. I want to read more...

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  7. Agree with what the othes have said about writing for yourself. Write from your heart always.

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    1. Thank you, Paula. Another lesson learned :-)

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  8. Absolutely right - your own unique voice is the most precious thing you have as a writer and it's so easy to lose it by trying to write what you think other people might want to read. Good luck with the revisions. :) It's really worth doing.

    As for the 6 sentences, that's a brilliant hook. I really want to know more.

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    1. Thank you, Elin :-) I hope I can bring the old ms up to snuff without changing the voice in it... I spent several hours on it today--and wow, it's rough :-) But I'm smoothing-one word at a time :-)

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  9. Congrats on deciding to go back to your true voice and to write with passion again.

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  10. Hi Teresa, I thought about your dilemma quite a bit today. I sometimes read about authors being more attached to their earlier works, and more emotionally involved in them. I personally think the learning curve doesn't "spoil" us writers as much as the questioning of concepts and ideas does - it starts much later in the writing process: because as writers we start out being idealists. In the beginning we are convinced that everything we do is great, and it sort of shows in how we write down our ideas; with gusto! Later, when we do know more about the actual craft, we start questioning as we write, and become editing monsters (like adverb avoidance strategies and such horrors - I can't help it :)).It's a horrible phase of knowing that not everything we write immediately turns to gold. This is the arduous phase, the not-so-fun part of writing. But this is a important crisis we have to get through. Yeah, I'm talking so smart, but I'm not even there yet myself. :))

    Regarding your unique voice, I can hear it everytime I am here, because it's the one thing that is always there, it has nothing to do with technique, and it has long been there before you even read "The Elements of Style". Don't worry, it's all there! :)

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    1. Dana, that makes so much sense. I recall being so proud--so confident that what I wrote was just plain wonderful, and that I had to be amazing to have actually done it, lol. The writing journey is a long one, and the path is full of twists and blind turns. Now, it seems like I question everything :-)

      Thanks for the encouragement. And all of your kind words and support. I hope that I am there for you, too! :-)

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    2. Are you ready for a cliche? I hate them but I'm gonna use one ... because it fits in this case. Writing is a double edged sword.

      I'd submit work for my college fiction classes that I though was the best writing that I could muster. I felt it was far and away better than a lot of what I'd been reading ... it was promptly torn to shreds.

      I realized later that some reviewed out of jealousy, others did it out of spite, but most genuinely wanted to give me honest feedback. Tough love, as it were. They found things that I could not see because I was too close to the work.

      Writing rules drive me nuts, especially that one up there about cliches and even the "lazy" and hated ly words. All of those things can be found in the novels of widely published authors. Try Stephen King, you'll find many of them. It's how you craft them into the story that matters, not the avoidance of them.

      Writing is something you love to do, it's more than a hobby and it's less than a "job" because you love it. Write with that love and the passion that comes from that love and your work and your voice will be beautiful. The editor can fix the other stuff. ;)

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    3. @ Teresa: Yes, you are, see also the response to your response to my six this Sunday... well, sounds more complicated than it is.. :)

      @ Mel: You're absolutely right. I agree with you on many of those rules. One good thing about the -ly-rule always made sense to me though: trying to find strong verbs is better than combining a weak verb with an adverb (if there is such an alternative), because strong verbs can add a certain level of visual depth.
      I think this way, it makes much more sense than to just live without them for no good reason. I need a certain dose of -lys myself. :)

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  11. What a brilliant daughter! Excellent advice and this story is bursting off the page :-)

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    1. Thanks, Lily! I think she's brilliant, too! :-) And thanks for the kind words about the six :-)

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  12. This is a wonderful idea, Teresa! I honestly have a great deal of difficulty going back to older works -- I think what you're doing is actually quite difficult, and I applaud you for it!

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    1. Thanks, Steven. Difficult, whew! You said a mouthful ;-) Thanks for giving it a read.

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  13. Hey Teresa, It sounds as if you are at your own new beginning. Good for you! Be true to your voice. It's yours alone and smooth from the sound of it. And how incredible is your daughter! I love that she noticed you battling and had the presence of mind to share that with you.

    Mac

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    1. Thanks, Mac. When we are surrounded by people who love us (and we love in return), we are truly blessed! Thank you for visiting :-)

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  14. i agree, writing with passion changes the feel of a story... makes it more real - whether it is or not... have fun, teresa!

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  15. Thanks, Danner! I will try and take your advice--have fun! Thanks for visiting :-)

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  16. I went back and rewrote my second novel for these very reasons. It just has a passion to it that nothing can match. Enjoy your time with your MS, I hope you have fun with it.

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    1. Thanks, Tanya. Oh my, lol...I'm not sure if it's fun or not. Got through 14 pages this week. Nah, it's this strange walk down memory lane, if that makes sense? Thanks for visiting :-)

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  17. Yes!I firmly believe that, regardless of whatever people might say, drafts should always be done for you and only you. Other people and their rules (guidelines) can intrude later when we edit.

    Good luck with finding your voice again!

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    1. Thanks, Misha. That was so well said. :-)

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