Monday, March 28, 2011
The winner of CHICKEN, PIG, COW by Ruth Ohi is Tracy Mangold!
And the winner of THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS by Katherine Patterson is Bish!
Thanks to everyone who came and partied with us. We sure had fun.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Here are some of the big risks I've been taking in the last couple of weeks:
Cutting out good writing. It's scary, but sometimes parts of my book where I really loved the writing have to go. It feels like I'm taking a huge chance, not knowing if whatever I replace it with will be better. I can only do it if I comfort myself with the thought that all that good writing is in another version of the file and I can get it back if I need it.
[When I read the improved version, I know those elegantly-worded sections won't ever be coming back. My story doesn't need them.]
Changing the beginning. Messing with the opening paragraph (actually, the whole first chapter) makes me nervous, especially when my crit partners didn't find much wrong with it. Since the first chapter sets the tone for the whole novel, these changes spill over into later chapters, gathering momentum, and I soon find that more and more changes are needed. Aack!
[When I come back and read it later, I realize the changes aren't as big and overwhelming as I thought. My words still capture what I originally envisioned. Sigh of relief.]
Taking out drama. I tend to throw a lot of obstacles at my protagonist, sometimes several in one chapter. I'm learning that too much drama doesn't give the reader a clear emotion to focus on. Cutting out action still worries me. Will the story be exciting enough? Will it hold my reader's attention? Should I risk it? I have to start small, reminding myself that it doesn't hurt to try. I can always put it back the way it was if it doesn't work out. What's few more hours of writing, anyway?
[My 11-year-old decided to re-read the early version of my story this week and commented that a lot of the story events happen "just in time" and it seemed unrealistic. Huh. Maybe there will be some benefit to losing some of the drama.]
It's hard work, but I'm learning to take more risks as a writer. One of the bonuses is that it stretches my mind in entirely new directions. I've stumbled onto a few great ideas which I know will improve the story.
What risks have you taken lately in your writing?
Friday, March 11, 2011
The MiGs have some fantastic news!
Our very own Debbie Ridpath Ohi will be illustrating I’M BORED by Michael Ian Black from Simon & Schuster 2012!!!!!
This is a long time in coming for Debbie and well deserved. We know she’s talented and amazing. We’re just glad the rest of the world is finally figuring it out. Here's the full story.
To celebrate Debbie’s success, check out this video we made for her:
Here's Carmella's part that didn't come through on the previous one:
AND with every party, we’re giving away presents to all of Debbie’s fans. We asked Debbie what her favorite picture book was and she said CHICKEN, PIG, COW by Ruth Ohi (Annick Press).
Her favorite middle grade is: THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS by Katherine Paterson
So that’s what we’re giving away.
(Pause for cheering)
All you have to do is fill in the form and leave a congratulation comment for Debbie by March 26th. If you’re a follower of our blog, you get an extra point!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Previous: Part 1
As I mentioned in my previous post, there often seems to be an aura of mystery around the whole concept of voice in writing. I've heard some say it can't really be defined, that a writer with a middle grade voice can't write YA (and vice versa). That having "a strong voice" is necessary for some genres but not others. That you can't change your voice so therefore it's important to find what your own writing voice IS so you can write the appropriate type of material.
I've been wrestling over how to approaching this series of posts and I've decided that I'm going to start out by looking at how different writers approach voice.
Stephen points out that the writer's voice is fabricated:
"The critical fact to remember is that the writer’s voice is artificial. It’s an act of artifice, crafted by the professional to achieve a specific effect in a work of the imagination. It’s not the “real” writer’s voice and if you try to find your own, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Because “you” don’t really exist. I don’t either, no matter how convincingly anybody tells us that we do or how much we choose to believe it. But that’s a subject for another chapter."
On the role of voice:
"The writer’s voice casts a spell. The right voice makes the work accessible; it gives us the tone and point of view that best illuminate the material and make it shine."
On finding the right voice for your story:
"To me the trick is getting your own ego out of the way. What voice does the material want? Find that. You the writer are not there to impose “your” voice on the material. Your job is to surrender to the material–and allow it to tell you what voice it wants in order to tell itself."
What I got out of this blog post:
According to Stephen Pressfield, a writer should theoretically be able to change his or her voice from one story to another. In fact, the voice SHOULD change and be created to best suit the material:
The writer’s voice (or director’s, choreographer’s, photographer’s, entrepreneur’s) arises from the material itself and acts in service to that material. It can, and often does, change from book to book, dance to dance, album to album, business venture to business venture.
This is encouraging news for someone like me. I've been told that my novels are written with a strong middle grade voice. While this is fine for my middle grade novels, what if I want to write YA? And what about specifics? What's the best way to change voice?
More in my next post.
You can read Stephen Pressfield's full post on The Writer's Voice.
-- Debbie Ridpath Ohi