Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Modern YA Writer's Handbook Vol. 1

OK, so remember that first novel we wrote? The one that's been exiled to a very, very high shelf? Confession time - I opened the document. I refuse to reread it (just too painful), but after skimming through a few pages I was pleasantly surprised. It's not all bad.

The single best thing about The (doomed) North Shore has got to be The Modern Socialite's Handbook. It's a fictional book we used within the context of our story to provide tips and quips to our characters. It's random and sort of fun, a lot like us actually.

The good news for you guys is that it turns out advice for socialites can easily be adapted for writers. Who knew?

Here's the original from The North Shore:

Shopping is an essential skill every aspiring socialite must master. While you might be tempted to rely solely on a personal stylist, a true socialite actively creates an image for herself that is communicated through her wardrobe choices. Bottom line, you need to know how to shop for yourself. Whether you opt for the understated elegance of Jackie O. or the over-the-top glamour of a Hilton, you must be consistent, and most importantly, it must be a style all your own. Remember, nobody likes a knock-off.

--The Modern Socialite’s Handbook

And here's our adapted version:

Voice is an essential skill every aspiring writer must master. While you might be tempted to imitate other successful authors, a true writer actively creates a voice for herself that's communicated through dialogue, word choices and overall tone. Bottom line, you need to put your own mark on your book. Whether you opt for the understated elegance of Marcus Zusak or the over-the-top snark of a Gossip Girl, you must be consistent, and most importantly, it must be a voice all your own. Remember, nobody likes a knock-off.

--The Modern YA Writer's Handbook

So...you tell us, how did you find your voice?

22 comments:

sraasch said...

I'm not quite sure how I found my voice -- it just kind of happened. I tend to be more snarky/sarcastic, or at least my MC's tend to be more snarky/sarcastic, but as far as my own personal voice goes, I'm not really sure where it came from.

MeganRebekah said...

I think my voice has always been present, as I've looked at old high school papers (yikes!) and seen similarities.
But writing a blog has definitely helped me to look at my voice more and play with it a bit.

Suzanne said...

There are so many good things about this post. The recycling of what is a lovely part of a shelved novel... the advice...

Thanks!

Rebecca L Sutton said...

I bet that story is waaaaay better then you let on! The Handbook sounds so fun, I love how you've adapted it to fit writing.

I wish I had a better answer about finding my voice, but really it just sort of happened. This time around though, I spent hours getting to know my characters, especially the dude telling the story! I found pictures of him, his car, his family's house, I wrote a list of what he liked, etc. Since I'm writing in first person it's essential I know my MC in and out. And I think I've done that with this story. At least I hope so...

christine said...

goh - finding my voice. IDK how it happened. Maybe through the crit groups, the practice of writing everyday...IDK. I think Iknow who I am as a human bein, so maybe that translates into my stories. And maybe I'm still searching. Lots to pondr on!

Corey Schwartz said...

Wow! Great adaptation! Still looking for my voice...I'll let you know when I find it.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Hahaha love it. And I don't know...sometimes I think I'm still searching for it.

Tess said...

Oh, I do this. I go back and steal tid bits from shelved or unfinished works all the time. There are little gems in there sometimes.

And, voice? I don't know. It's what comes through when I write, it's not anything I really try to craft per se.

Dominique said...

I always wished my voice were more sarcastic. When I speak in real life, I tend to be dry or sarcastic. Sometimes my favorite characters come out that way, but I wish my narration did more as well.

Loretta Nyhan said...

I guess my voice is a little bit of me and little bit--I don't know--something else? Lame definition, I know, but it's one of those magical things about writing, isn't it? I mean, you can study grammar, structure, etc., but voice falls into one of those "can't be taught" categories.

Icy Roses said...

Lol, what a great adaption. I agree and agree and agree. Finding your voice comes with practice. The more you write, the more defined your voice will be.

Rebecca Knight said...

The voice thing is a little funky, isn't it? It's elusive and sometimes downright confusing how to be unique.

I feel like I got a good start on my voice from figuring out what kind of stuff I liked to read. Then, I just went for it, trying to tell a story I would enjoy, without worrying about what I sounded like, or if I was as good (or worse) than any other writers in the genre.

I think a good way to be genuninely "you" is to write what you'd like to read unselfconsciously. Easier said than done, of course :P.

But the real voice-honing comes with rewrites after that ;).

Solvang Sherrie said...

I stopped trying to write the book I thought I should write and started writing one I would want to read :)

JennyMac said...

Oh, I think I have had my voice since in utero. Just ask my family.

LOL.

Donna Gambale said...

I found my overall writing voice when I realized that I don't do well with long, thoughtful, heavy prose. (Alas, I will never be a writer of literary fiction.) Shorter sentences, action, and dialogue suit me and allow me to have more fun -- even when dealing with serious topics! My voice tends to be humorous, too.

My longterm friends who've read both my WIP and the Magnetic Kama Sutra mini kit I wrote for have said that they can totally hear me in both...which is kind of weird, but I guess it means my "writer's voice" is pretty established, no matter the topic!

Hardygirl said...

Ah . . that elusive voice. Still trying to find it.

sf

Christina Lee said...

I think I might still be out searching for it!and maybe my son (home with strep) will help me search instead of pretending to not be sick (can' they just lay and watch when "sick") and jumping all over me all day while I'm trying to find it :)

Jeannie Lin said...

How cool! Maybe you can adapt the socialite handbook into another story?

I'm actually blogging about how I found my voice this week! Without revealing too many gory details, I think what helped was realizing my voice was there, but my writing had to be tightened and my voice emphasized before anyone could hear it. Kind of like how singers take voice lessons, I suppose!

Katie said...

Once again, you girl's have written a fab post with a voice that is definitely all your own!!

I'm not sure how I found mine, but I distinctly recall those days when I felt crummy that I wasn't as funny as X or as snarky as Y or as deep as Z. But, in the end, I just had to be me.

Which is a good place to land, I guess.

Great post!

confused homemaker said...

I think I'm still in the process of finding, it's like I'm a work in progress.

jessjordan said...

My voice was hiding under a rock somewhere. I picked up a couple with big red Xs on the bottom before finding the right one. And the right rock turned turned out to be the YA section in the bookstore. When I picked up a recent YA book, I just knew. It fit. Like a certain glass slipper we all know and love. :)

(Yes, I am exhausted. Which explains the nonsensical metaphors.)

Joanna said...

The handbook did rock :)

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