Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Staying True To Your Voice
A guest post by mystery author Jennifer Stanley
(for photo and bio, see yesterday's post).
Jennifer's brand-new December, 2009 release is Stirring Up Strife: A Hope Street Mystery. Welcome to the Hope Street Church…where good folks study The Good Book, but everyone loves a good mystery. And what makes this book even more delicious is that it includes heavenly recipes!
Cooper Lee can repair a copy machine—but can she repair her life? That’s one of the many Big Questions that lead this newly single Richmond girl to Sunrise Bible Study at the Hope Street Church. Cooper hasn’t attended church in ages, but after getting dumped by her long-time boyfriend—and moving in with her family—she could use some new friends, and a new outlook on life. Happily, the members of the Bible group are anything but cookie-cutter, which suits Cooper just fine. There’s a blind folk artist, a playboy meteorologist, an investment banker with a sweet tooth, an ambitious realtor, and a cute shy web designer who just might be “the one” for Cooper. But the member of Hope Street Church who invited Cooper to join this motley crew—an office worker who got her wedding ring stuck in a copier—is something else altogether: She’s dead And her husband is suspected of murder! The Sunrise gang jumps into action, vowing to solve this unholy mess—with God’s guidance—and Cooper’s snooping…
Now here's Jennifer's post, and remember, if you leave a comment, you'll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Stirring Up Strife: A Hope Street Mystery!
Staying true to your voice. What does that even mean?
For me it means not writing to market trends. It means writing naturally, organically. For example, if you’ve formed your character’s behavior and mannerisms based on personal experience and then suddenly, inexplicably, your character begins speaking in a different voice, your readers will cock their heads at a funny angle and wonder what happened.
Often, aspiring writers submit queries to literary agents and are rejected on the grounds that the agent didn’t sense a clear voice or, even worse, felt the narrative voice rang false.
Why does this happen? I’m not one hundred percent certain, but I’d guess that this occurs when writers try to replicate a best-selling voice (aka a Patterson or an Evanovich voice) but it just doesn’t work. It also happens when writers chase market trends. When paranormal suspense is selling well, they try to force themselves to write about a werewolf detective, regardless of the fact that they have no real interest in werewolves at all!
So what’s a writer to do? The old cliché “write what you know,” is a wise cliché. By infusing your work with genuine experiences and your own colorful mannerisms, you develop a true voice – one as unique as your fingerprints or DNA strains.
Believe in your voice. It will give you the courage to write a book about church folks solving mysteries when the entire publishing world was in search of a werewolf detective series.
Good luck finding that beautifully individual voice!
For those who have found or are exploring an individual voice, what is your voice talking about these days? What advice do YOU have to offer fellow writers looking for their own individual voice?
Jennifer’s new release, Stirring Up Strife, is published by St. Martin’s Press and is available at your local bookstore or Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders. To contact the author please visit www.jbstanley.com.