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Dear Extra Squeeze Team, How Do I Keep My Narrative Voice Consistent?

July 31, 2020 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team,

I have three MCs in my historical fiction novel; each one in a different country. A critique pointed out that the voice kept changing. How do I keep the voice constant while maintaining the three different cultures?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

This sounds like an exciting and intricate project. It also sounds like you need to stop and assess your critique group’s input. Having not seen the work it’s hard to make a judgment regarding your question, but I think the changing voices would be necessary for a project of this scope. So ask yourself if, in this instance, is your author’s instinct appropriate or your critique group’s caution?

I wrote a book called Before Her Eyes that had first person and third person parallel stories. The voices had to be different and I wrote them as such. Readers had no problem with this.

What I do question, however, is the suggestion that you have three main characters. I will accept they are the MC’s of their separate sections of the book. However (again an assumption) they will all come together at some point. There will have to be a conclusion to this book and that means one character will have the star turn.

I would be curious to know if you really have three MCs or one MC and some very, very strong supporting characters. I will refer back to Before Her Eyes. While each track had a main character the climax of the book showcased one. His journey overrode hers. Good luck.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

 

Whose voice? I’m going to assume you mean the narrative voice—1st PPOV or 3rd PPOV. It would be critical for the voices of the three separate MCs to be different from one another but consistent within each voice. I’m not so sure it would be so for an overall narrative voice unless it is 1st PPOV. That makes the narrator a character as well.

 

If we are talking 3rd person narrator be clear in your mind about the intent and purpose of the narrator—is it the omniscient 3rd person? Then you have the advantage of a voice that knows everything from the thoughts of a character to where in time all the characters are. Think of it as your writerly inner voice and stick with that for the omniscient narration.

 

If you are using a 1st person narrator then it is a character with it’s own strengths and weaknesses and agenda. As with any character the author needs to truly know who that character is. Tapping into that understanding will keep the narrative voice consistent through out.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

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Critique Groups or Beta Readers?

March 3, 2019 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , ,
Author finding a typo in her published book | Critique Groups or Beta Readers| by Will Zeilinger

What’s the difference and why do we need them anyway?

by
Will Zeilinger

Janet and I co-write the Skylar Drake Mystery series and we’ve had people say to us, “I guess you proofread each other’s work.”

Both of us are intimately involved in the writing and initial editing, as such, we can get too close to it and sometimes miss big issues. That’s why we would never submit something for publication without the help of critique groups and/or beta readers to assist us.

What exactly, are we talking about? Maybe this will help.

Reader happy with the text she's reading | Critique Groups or Beta Readers | Will Zeilinger

 Beta Readers are individuals who evaluate your manuscript by reading it through and telling you about flaws or holes in your story.  Beta has come to mean a sort of testing phase and that is what a beta reader does. You have them read your work as a way of testing it for readability, and overall structure.

A Critique Group is made up of several people (usually writers, but sometimes includes readers) who meet together. You as an author, provide a short story or maybe a chapter from a novel for the group to read and critique. 

Let me stop here—The very word ‘critique’ is based on the word criticism, and in our culture that word has taken on a negative connotation, since to criticize someone’s writing usually means to tear it apart. However, the dictionary definition of the word ‘critic’ indicates it is “someone who passes judgement on something, usually in reference to art and literature.”

 That is a neutral statement…judgement can be either positive or negative, or a combination of both. So, it’s not, necessarily a bad thing.

This may all sound scary, especially to a beginning author. They’re taking your baby away from you and who knows what they will return in its place?  Will your prose become something unrecognizable? After all the hours, days, and nights of sweat and deprivation…will they drop a piece of crap in your lap?

A critique group in a library | Critique Group or Beta Readers | Will Zeilinger

Here’s the truth: Having another set of eyes and an impartial opinion of your work-in-progress is an essential step if you are planning to self-publish, but it can also help you in the quest to secure an agent or publisher if your plan is to go the traditional route with your work.

“But it’s gonna hurt!” you say. Don’t look at it that was. This is where you have the power to accept or reject any suggestions or critiques of your work.

As a career graphic designer, I remember vividly, the first critiques in my college classes. We all posted our concepts on the wall of the classroom. The professor would walk back and forth, making “hmmph” and “umm” noises before turning and asking the rest of us in class what we thought of each piece. There were, of course, a variety of reactions to them. 

As students, we’d take each into consideration. I didn’t always accept their suggestions, but I needed to hear and see it because I’d been too close to my work to be objective.

One of the things my professor said that I’ve carried over into my writing was when he would hold his hand over a portion of the drawing and ask, “Does this still work without this part?”

I found that eliminating nonessential pieces has helped streamline my work and make it read easier.

I needed to learn to accept constructive, positive critiques in either my designs or my writing, and discount those that were not pertinent or objective.

Letting others check your work-in-progress is a great way to improve your writing and make friends too.  Your choice: Beta Readers or Critique groups or both. Find the right one for you.

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Helping Santa by @jannryan

December 2, 2017 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Helping Santa | Jann Ryan | A Slice of Orange

Jann says she’s off today helping Santa. But don’t worry she’ll be back on December 4th with a special interview featuring the members of the Writing Something Romantic critique group.

Mark your calendars because the group has something fun to share.


Jann Ryan | A Slice of Orange

Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.

Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined of Romance Writers of America®. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.

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