Monday, August 4, 2014

Pros Part 4, Medeia Sharif


In the past weeks I've  featured some writer friends who have some excellent books out this year. I asked them to send me their latest book, their tagline and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last week MICHELLE ZINK visited with her book, The Wicked Games. Today I have an Evernight Teen author, MEDEIA SHARIF

Medeia's Book Available Now

Tagline: Don't touch a girl's most prized possession.

Advice from Medeia: My advice is to get inside a teenager's head and not to allow a wisp of an adult voice inside your story, save for the actual adult characters. Even during moments of growth, the teenage voice should be there. 

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Here's one of my favorite quotes about VOICE from Sol Stein. "The author's "voice" is an amalgam of the many factors that distinguish a writer from all other writers. Many authors first find their voice when they have learned to examine each word for its necessity, precision, and clarity, and have become expert in eliminating the extraneous and imprecise from their work. Recognizing an individual author's voice is much like recognizing a person's voice on the telephone.

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Sometimes it takes me a while to "get" the voice I want for my story, even when I think I have a good grip on it in my head. When I have trouble nailing down the character's voice I want, I try these strategies.

1) I switch the point of view from whatever I've written in already.
2) I play with tense.
3) I read both aloud, so I can hear the dialogue and the narration.
4) I decide which has the strongest connection between my character(s) and me.

Here's a really short bit of a scene from Double Negative. It's between Hutch and his dad and it's written in third person, past tense. 

His eyes hurt watching his dad. He missed his easy ways. Dee Dee was part insect, the way she darted around and made gnat sounds just before she jabbed her stinger into him.
“So what’re we gonna do about this school thing, Hutch?” His dad’s “thing” still came out “thang” even after twenty years living away from Texas.
When Hutch answered him, he'd already picked up that sound and Texas was in his voice, too. “I guess I’ll have to stop ditching?”
“You get to Kranski’s office and talk over the problem. If he wants a conversation, you best give him one.”

Here's that same bit as it is in the book--first person, present tense.

My eyes kinda hurt watching him. I miss his easy ways. Dee Dee’s part insect, the way she darts around and makes gnat sounds just before she jabs her stinger into me.
“So what’re we gonna do about this school thing, Hutch?” Dad’s “thing” still comes out “thang” even after twenty years living away from Texas.
When I answer him, I’ve already picked up that sound and Texas is in my voice, too. “I guess I’ll have to stop ditching?”
“You get to Kranski’s office and talk over the problem. If he wants a conversation, you best give him one.” 

I had to go with the first person and the present tense because, to my ear, it was really Hutch's voice that way. In third person, past, I lost my kid and I heard more of me. 

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My quote for the day: "It is what you learn after you know it all that counts." Earl Weaver, Baseball Manager, Washington  Post



Do you have any strategies for nailing voice? If you write for YA readers, did Medeia's advice ring true for you? Anybody in your life that knows it all?


26 comments:

  1. Voice is a hard thing to develop. And you don't want your characters all sounding the same. That's been my challenge now that I'm writing about a new main character.

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  2. I think that's why so many YA books are in first person. It's easier to nail the voice.

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  3. Medeia's advice is spot on. That's the only to allow the character to come through instead of me, the adult. And I like to use the read aloud method. It helps to hear the words. They tend to pierce deeper than silent reading and make it easier to hear what direction would be best to attain the right voice.

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  4. Good advice. There's only been a few times I've had trouble finding the voice in a story, but a little playing around had me figuring it out eventually.

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  5. Interesting. I wonder if that's why so much YA is written in 1st person, present tense.

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  6. All good tips. I like present tense best, but I did play around with tense in my WIP and I'm trying out past tense.

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  7. Sounds like a great book. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Congrats to Medeia on her great publishing year. I struggle with voice a lot. Thanks for the helpful tips.

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  9. Writing in different tenses has worked wonders for me on more than one occasion.

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  10. Great advice, Medeia! It's extremely important to get into a character's voice, especially a teenagers voice.

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  11. I read Medeia's book and found it a good read, very touching in parts. Never tried first person, but I understand why so many YA writers use it. For me, the voice is right when I get inside the character's head and that means being the character's age too.

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  12. Take a snippet, read it aloud - then change the tense, read it aloud...
    make a decision on which one resonates more...
    I need to try this exercise.

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  13. It's true that we have to become (or almost) the character, Medeia, to know how they think and would react to a situation. In revising my WIP, I'm changing from third person to first person. So far, I think it's working better. We'll see.

    Great scene, Lee. I like Hutch's dad. He's trying the best he can.

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  14. Since I was currently having plot and motivation problems with my current WIP, I recently opened an old document -- something I started and never moved forward on. It was third person, which is my usual thing, but it seemed stilted for this story. So I switched to first person present tense even though I NEVER write that and it's my least favorite POV to read. For this story, however, it was right.

    I still think this particular story is never going to gel for me completely, but I have decided it's a fun way to explore a different tense and POV and stretch my voice a litt.e

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  15. Medeia's advice is great! Voice can be hard to figure out, and I do like trying different things to find the right voice for the piece.

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  16. Great advice! I think it takes a long time to get the voice just right, especially with first person. Whenever I start writing as a new character, it feels pretty generic and boring until I develop it more.

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  17. Good advice. Voice means almost everything, a good story too!

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  18. Such great advice about voice! I really loved seeing those two snippets from Double Negative. While essentially the same, the tweaks you made definitely show how much impact even the smallest change can make!

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  19. Getting the voice right in a YA novel is tricky and for me the best thing for me is to know the character completely. And I agree with Medeia, don't slip into an adult voice. It shows too much.

    My cat knows everything. Just ask him.

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  20. Medeia's advice is spot on, as is yours. Thanks so much for the examples and insight. There's always something to learn, isn't there?

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  21. I usually have trouble with the voice of at least one character in each book. But to balance that, I usually also have one whose voice just flows perfectly. Great tips. I'm going to bookmark this. Thanks, Medeia! And you, too, Lee, for hosting her.

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  22. Intriguing book...and a cool quote too:)

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  23. I think that's a great way to find the perfect voice for the story. Love the kitty cat pose!

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  24. Great advice Medeia! I think that's why so many YA use first person. Sometimes it's easier to capture that voice.

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  25. My first MG I had an easy time with voice, but I find it hard to do with different books to make sure they are very different.

    Good advice!!

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  26. Thank you for featuring me and I'm late getting here and reading the fantastic comments. :)

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