Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Voice is picky

So many other people do articles on craft, so I tend to shy away from them. But something happened a few days ago and I felt compelled to comment. (If I didn't feel compelled I don't know what I'd be doing writing about it. But anyway.)

I work with someone at the Day Job who's not much of a reader. In fact, she jokes (but not really) that she reads one book a year, and she chooses it just before she goes on vacation for a week to the family vacation place beside a lake. The place has no Internet, barely electricity, so reading is the way to go. She's got a dozen books that she's started to read at the lake but never finished. She'll finish them someday, she says.

This year, though, she may finish the book she chooses. Recently, she saw the movie Twilight, and got so curious about the story that she picked up the source novel ... and LOVED IT. She devoured it and had to read the next ... and the next. She can't imagine what those people who disparage these books are thinking, she says. She's never read anything like them!

Now, I have to admit I've never read anything by Stephenie Meyer. Like my coworker, I figure I'll read 'em someday, but they're not really in my bailiwick (I've read enough vampire novels in my day, and I can't imagine that these YA versions are much different from the adult romance version). But my coworker was raving about them, and that makes me curious. I know it's got to be the voice -- and voice is, as we're told, over and over, what makes all the difference.

Two examples. Stephen King. Brilliant writer of short fiction and nonfiction, but his horror novels leave me cold. But I know it's the voice that brings 'em in. I've read two of his novels, and I remember admiring his technique, but while I recognize his craft, it's not something that hits my heart or gut. Will I have nightmares? Eh. I applaud him for everything he's done, but it's not to my taste for the most part. Next.

Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz. My personal favorite. Her voice spoke to me the first time I read Ammie, Come Home, and it has greeted me like an old friend every time since. I've always loved her work, but I know others have only nodded and said, "She's okay." 

And that's mostly voice. Does it suck you in? Does it transport you to a land not of your choosing, and do the characters appear in your dreams? If so, damn but the author's done his or her job. And won a convert to boot. 

My coworker is afraid that she'll finish the fourth book in Meyer's series before her vacation, but I pointed out that even if she does, there ARE other books out there that she'd probably like just as well. I could suggest a few (more than a few, in fact), but of course, it's her own personal journey to find that voice that speaks to her in quite the same way. 

And it's every writer's wish that a reader makes that discovery of his or her own books!

Eilis Flynn
Only 29 more days to launch!

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I can't believe you haven't read Twilight yet? I read the Host by SM and didn't like it as much as the Twilight saga, but wow! I can understand why every girl out there is in love with Edward Cullen. It's not your typical vamp lore...and it does suck you in.

I am new to you, so what should I read first?