This week, four things have conspired to make me think again about the author’s voice. First, a friend asked me a question about some editorial revisions he had received. Then I started the second draft of a new book and found myself uncertain about my own voice. Was it too – well – romantic? There will be romance in this book (actually series) but not for a long time after Chapter One.
On top of that, a very good friend strongly recommended a novel. Excited, I bought it at once. I’m a great fan of her own books and we very often love the same authors. But I am really struggling to get into it. I admit I put it down and walk away a lot. Which pleases the cat. We will discuss it when next we zoom. AAARGH!
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about lies and liars. I am writing one story and editing another and find that my characters in both lie much more than I am used to.
The lie is a major tool in the writer’s workbox. Often it turns the plot a full one eighty degrees. Sometimes it drives the whole story. Think of de Maupassant’s The Necklace.
But for a lie to work in a novel, you have to have a convincing liar. By that I don’t mean someone who is habitually economical with the truth. I mean someone who has a good reason to lie and does so. And, even more important, someone whom another person, or even many people, will believe.
I think probably every novelist has found themselves writing in secret at some time or other.
I certainly have.
In my case I’d announced that I Was Never Going To Write Another Word after my debut masterpiece — quite rightly — failed to find a publisher. My resolve lasted about 6 months. Just long enough to get a job in a Very Serious Institution and perceive the benefits of a monthly salary. So when I took up my pen again, it was very, very privately.
Yet I was startled to discover Libertà Hive member Joanna Maitland has just published a book I didn’t even know she was working on. (More info here.)