**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**
Great. Just fabulous. I mean, really. What the hell, why didn’t we just have
everyone watch us going at it? It would have been a great show. Watch
the f** try to f*** the desperate whore. Who knows what could happen?!
One of the few good things about working on the same novel for over five years is that at this point, I have the voice down. It is done, it's developed, it's perfect in my mind. It certainly may not be everyone's cup of tea ("Who has tea??" Jordan says. "You made tea and didn't make me a cup?!"), but neither is the whole book. For this book, and for this character in particular, the voice works.
Voice is a tricky thing. What you need can depend on a lot of things. Each character should have his/her own distinct voice when they speak, but that doesn't necessarily come up on every page. Your narrator's voice does, though. And if the book is in first person, you're actually writing from a character's point of view. As you read, you're experiencing everything through his eyes and his words. You want it to sound like a real person is telling the story. That's where voice comes in.
Everyone has a certain way of speaking. Your narrator's voice should be distinct from the other characters in the book. We should actually believe that this person would use these words to tell the story. When I first started writing UL, it did not sound like a teenage boy was telling the story. It sounded like a twentysomething girl was, well, because that's who was writing it. Voice doesn't always come to you right away. Sometimes just getting the story down first is more important. But developing a distinct voice for your narrator will not only make the story believable, but hopefully more enjoyable.
Honestly, the first thing I did to develop Jordan's voice was just to throw a lot of swears in. I figured that was a totally plausible thing for a teenager to be doing. I cut the big, lengthy words that he would never use and replaced them with more believable ones (like "bullsh**" for "pretense," that was a good one!). I didn't shy away from fragments. I added little phrases that I probably will need to cut down on in the third draft, like all the "I mean"s and "really"s and "I mean, really"s.
I guess the one thing I worry about is that some people won't like the voice. But I guess those are the same people who wouldn't like the book anyway. But some people are turned off by swears. I almost didn't include the end of the above quote until I realized that was kind of the point. If Jordan wasn't swearing all the time, it would probably seem weird. I know that limits my audience a bit, but I just think it's more believable, and it's something unique to his voice. There are other characters in the book who never swear, but he's definitely not one of them. So why would his narration be any different than his dialogue?
Figuring out the voice can depend on a lot of things. Who your character is, what point in his life he's telling his story from, or just how he speaks in general. It can take a long time to develop, but as long as the narrator has a unique voice, that will make the story come alive even more.
How do you develop a character's voice? Do you mind reading books with swears?