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Method of Story Creation - It's influence upon voice.

Darian Wolfe

Hello All,

As I've said before, I'm new to writing about writing. As I am looking to deepen my voice, I thought we could examine how the method of story creation shapes voice.It helps to decide what elements are and are not included in the narrative.

By way of examples, I'll offer the relevant notes from two of my stories. "Freya" and "Mr.Evans" So you may make a comparison and to help spark discussion.

For "Freya" I used a modified version of the Shantaram Story Architecture. Here are the notes (I am reusing info I sent someone as it is already organized.)

SSA was developed for novel creation so I had to modify it for Short Stories The purpose of SSA is to help you take a subject that moves you and build a story from it. Think of it as building a skyscraper. The subject is the foundation that the story is built upon.

Background

Freya is largely autobiographical. In my mid-twenties I fell in love for the first time. I immediately overinvested in the relationship. When it ended I was devasted. In a 72 hour period, I lost my woman, her children, most of my friends, the church I attended, my faith. All of it gone. "Freya" was her best friend. She seduced me (while allowing me to believe I was seducing her) and healed me. She helped make me more than I was before the ill-fated relationship with her friend. I wanted to write a story honoring her and honoring the feminine as expressed through the Norse Goddess Freyja. Now let's use SSA on this. I'm pulling this from my story notes.

SSA

Central Subject

My relationship with Freya

Theme
Everything within the work will relate in some way to the theme. What are the aspects of the theme? Which ones shall you use? It's the theme that determines the contours of the narrative, the devices and mechanisms of the plot, the number and qualities of the characters, and the emblematic symbol of the novel. Moreover, the theme of the novel determines the contours and characteristics for all of the other twenty layers of allegorical, symbolic and imaginal depth.

For Freya, the Theme is Sexual Healing in the aspects of
— Acceptance
— Illumination

LAYERS OF ALLEGORICAL DEPTH

Roberts purports that having two other enduring works that can be alluded to will provide a depth to the work. (I still don't know why I choose these other than a woman can fuck you up and like David, my religion took a major hit over one. lol)

1. David and Bathsheba 2Samuel 11:2 - 18

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite." 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant."

6 So David sent this word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, "Uriah did not go home." So he asked Uriah, "Haven't you just come from a military campaign? Why didn't you go home?"

11 Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,[a] and my commander Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!"

12 Then David said to him, "Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, "Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

————————————————————————————————————————————————

2. Song by Climax Blues band: I Love You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObG48PZHU2k

3. Len Berstein's Hallelujah

THE MOSAIC IMAGE – A representational image for the whole novel, which gets broken down into the book's chapters. This emblematic mosaic image has the purpose of unifying the imagery and symbolism of the novel.

The Emblematic Symbol:
Desert Oasis at night In Freya the symbol is that of an oasis at night, to symbolize the refreshness of acceptance in the desert of relationship experiences of the protagonist. The bright Moon represents illumination not of Truth but of truth to find his way. The symbol should appear every time there is a major event, transformation, or period of emotional intensity in the piece image attached

The Virtue
in Freya is Authenticity, which is being true to one's own personality, spirit or character transcends low self-esteem and should vibrate through the piece. In some instances, it is the virtue which saves people.

The Vice
in Freya is being fake/false. the vice will be the downfall of the characters and shape the negative aspects of the work.

The (Two) colours The colors you choose for your piece should be from the emblematic image, and again, will show themselves during important moments.

Dark Brown = nourishing, life-giving place to grow roots Hint: sex scene

Forest Green = Growth, new way of looking at life

The (Two) Cardinal elements

fire, Water,

Water the third element of the alchemical tradition.
Water is the essence of love and fertility, the element of the nature of emotions.
Astrological Signs: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
Represented by: Water, lavender fragrance, Fish, coral and sponges.
Season: Summer
Color: Blue

Fire the second element of the alchemical tradition.
Fire is the essence of purification and change, the element of the nature of the will.
Astrological Signs: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
Represented by: Fire, candles, lights, dragons and the sun.
Season: Spring
Color: Yellow and Green

The (Two) Textures

Velour

Leather

The (Two) Tastes Every short story has two tastes that recur throughout the text, serving to reinforce the subconscious connection to moments of peak transition, transformation, and emotional intensity.

Green tea

strawberry

The (Two) Emblematic Animals I focused on this one a lot in the story!

Cat Cats are sacred to Freyja as such they are a harbinger of blessing and healing in the story Hint: Lion skin sex scene

Raven Note: every time Brett sees a Raven/Crow he gets FUCKED OVER in the story. I'm surprised he didn't start shooting the bastards.

The (Two) Perfumes or scents Every novel has two perfumes or scents that serve to reinforce the reader's connection with moments of peak romantic transition, transformation, or emotional intensity.

Lavender

Strawberry

The Symbolic Number Every Short Story has a significant number, used throughout the text to subconsciously reinforce the moments of peak transition, transformation, and emotional intensity.

Example:In Shantaram, the number is eight. There are eight key members of Leopold's society of friends; there are eight members of the Khader Khan Council when Lin visits for the first time; there are eight survivors (after Khaled murders Habib, and leaves the camp) of the original thirty men who went to in Afghanistan, and so on. This number recurs throughout the text, working in the background of the peak

Symbolic Number of Freyja is 4

Freya Reynolds the sexual healer of the story is named after the Norse Goddess Freya whose number is 4.
http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-vanir-gods-and-goddesses/freya/

— Freya means Lady
— cats
— ravens http://www.transceltic.com/pan-celtic/ravens-celtic-and-norse-mythology

Raven taps on window right before Deirdra's call
Raven sounds when Deirdra walks away in the park for the last time.

The cat stopping him from committing suicide and comforting him is a symbol of Freya doing the same

Freya in leopard negligee
They have sex on a lion skin

Freya gives him a kitten

End of SSA

When you take the above information it gives you a framework to weave your story upon. If you pull Freya up and have this side by side it will stick out and you will see that it acts as a skeleton for the story and more than that it can be used to weave webs of complexity to educate and delight your readers.

and

First Thousand - break down, dinner,,

Second Thousand -Park

Third Thousand - Freya and Brett Flirting,I want to, First time w/ Freya + relationship talk

Fourth Thousand - Jay begging, Playing while Jay's passed out, Meets Jane
Fifth Thousand - Relationship talk2, man 2 man talk
Sixth Thousand - , date with Jane, Freya's Moving

Seventh Thousand - 2nd date with Jane, Dinner And good bye

-----------------

Now, Mr.Evans

- fluffing pillows
- burning Memories
—————————————————————
- Hel walks in
- take my hand
——————————————————————————————————————————————————1st
- the bar
- the approach
————————————————————-
- making love
- the talk
- hotel hallway
- Richard Thanks Hel and asks to kiss her Grey cheek
- hotel door way
——————————————————————————————————————————————————2nd
- finds the body, receipt, necklace, The Letter.
- funeral
———————————————————
- birth name

That's it.

Now for each story, the main characters had character sheets.

Freya is a longer story than Mr. Evans and in fact, spawned a trilogy. Yet, some would argue that Mr. Evans is better.

What do you think the drawbacks are of each of the methods? The benefits? Is there a synthesis that would be useful?

Ernest Bywater

I'm sure that for some authors the method of the story creation affects how the story is written, but I'm also sure that's not true for all authors. I use the same story creation method with all of my stories, but I also use a variety of point of view and story voice which results in variations in the story style.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Ernest Bywater

What do you mean when you say "story voice"?

Ernest Bywater

Here's a straight quote from my free Fiction Writing Guide on Lulu at:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ernest-bywater/fiction-writing-style-guide/ebook/product-23436081.html

Story Voice

The story voice applies to the types of words you use in the dialogue and the narrative, but it's most noticed in the dialogue. The main area is the verbs and sentence structure to make your story passive or active. Active voice is used to emphasize who is doing the action while passive voice is used to indicate something was done. Here are some examples:

'Joe brought the computer down with a software error' is active since it emphasizes Joe's action (i.e. the reader's attention is focused on Joe not the software error).

'The computer was brought down by a software error' is passive since it emphasizes what happened instead of how or why the computer was brought down.

'Joe loaded the gun with hollow point bullets' is active since emphasizes Joe as the person who loaded the gun.

'The gun was loaded by Joe with hollow point bullets' is passive because it is emphasizing the gun was loaded (i.e., the reader's attention is focused on the gun, not Joe).

As a general rule active voice (action) moves the story along faster than passive voice (description). Both have their place in a story, and you need to identify which to use where for the best effect.

Passive Language

Try to avoid passive language in dialogue. It's often used to 'qualify' a sentence with words that may cause confusion. Short active sentences are clearer with less chance of the reader missing the meaning.

Sentence Length Affects the Voice and Pace

Sentence length is important in action scenes, so sentences should be kept short and direct for the maximum impact. During slower scenes longer detailed sentences are often used. Readers expect the changes.

Darian Wolfe

@Ernest Bywater

Thank you, I understand. I just hadn't heard it referred to by that term. Thanks. for the link. I'll get it now.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

The story voice applies to the types of words you use in the dialogue and the narrative, but it's most noticed in the dialogue.


I think you meant, "…but is most noticed in the narrative."

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

It's impossible to find a decent definition but IMO everything about an author's writing contributes to their voice including tense, POV, grammar usage, vocabulary, sentence and paragraph lengths, and contractions. (Oxford comma!)

Use of passive and active voice are also contributors to an author's voice, but the two meanings of voice are different.

One of the hardest jobs for an editor is to make corrections in the author's voice rather than their own.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

IMO everything about an author's writing contributes to their voice


Did you mean to reply to me?

My comment to Ernest was that the dialogue is each character's voice. The narrative is the author's voice. Of course in 1st-person, the narrative is the character's voice of the 1st-person narrator (e.g., Huck Finn).

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Did you mean to reply to me?


My mistake, it was intended as a general contribution about the meaning of voice.

My writers' group discussed it a few months back and couldn't come up with a definition that clearly distinguished it from style.

IMO each character's voice, including the narrator's, all contribute to the author's voice.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

My writers' group discussed it a few months back and couldn't come up with a definition that clearly distinguished it from style.


Here's Writer's Digest's view:

Q: Could you define the difference between a writer's voice and style in creative writing?—Ralph G.

Here's the breakdown: Voice is your own. It's a developed way of writing that sets you apart from other writers (hopefully). It's your personality coming through on the page, by your language use and word choice. When you read a Dave Barry column, you know it's his. Why? He's developed a distinct writing voice.

Style is much broader than voice. Some writers have a writing style that's very ornate—long, complex and beautiful sentences, packed with metaphors and imagery (think Frank McCourt and John Irving). Others have a more straightforward style—sparse prose, simple sentences, etc.

Here's one way to think about it: WD tries to have all its articles fit a similar style—conversational yet straightforward. But between the covers, each piece is written by a different author whose own voice colors his particular piece. So the continuity of the magazine stays together, but each piece is still different.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Here's Writer's Digest's view:


I can see how that works for multi-author creations, but I'm not so convinced about single-author creations. Oh well :(

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Here's someone else's opinion. It's too long to copy here so the link is: https://davehood59.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/the-voice-and-style-of-a-fiction-writer/

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Thanks, but I feel the blogger is creating artificial distinctions that don't actually exist in real life.

AJ

Darian Wolfe

There are some very interesting views here. I am of the opinion that every piece a writer creates is in some way a reflection of themselves.

So I guess in a way voice could be described as the degree of authenticity an author has with... with what? their story? their style? Hell, their obedience to their muse? I don't know.

I do know that when an author has a strong voice their work carries an impact that other's work does not. I also know it is something that is learned or should I say absorbed as one practices their craft.

In obtaining a small degree of mastery in other fields, I learned that after countless perfect repetitions of the basic movements you learn the small deviations that are the essence of mastery. In writing, I think it may be the same. At least, the great writers say it is so.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

My comment to Ernest was that the dialogue is each character's voice. The narrative is the author's voice. Of course in 1st-person, the narrative is the character's voice of the 1st-person narrator (e.g., Huck Finn).

I learned to think of each of my 3rd-person Omni narrators as particular people, whether it's someone from the story recounting what happened, a 'fireside story', recounted from oft-repeated stories, or someone else who knows the intimate details of the story, knowing who is speaking helps you figure out how they'd speak in most instances, so I typically define a narrator for each story, even if he's never introduced (i.e. used in the story).

It's dangerous thinking of the narrator as 'the author', because then everything the narrator says is what you yourself think, which isn't always the way you want a story to unfold (you opinions, your actions, your inclinations). However, casting your narrator as a separate character gives them a separate 'personality', allowing you to cater the story's voice to them, rather than to you.

Of course, as in many of these things, I seem to be the only one who focuses on the narrator on a regular basis.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I can see how that works for multi-author creations, but I'm not so convinced about single-author creations. Oh well

No, a writer's voice is similar across stories, it's what defines your stories (short, concise, intense, or detailed and ornate, descriptive, or any number of other styles). If you modify that 'voice', you'd best publish/post under a different pseudonym, because your fans will no longer recognize your voice, and may reject it out of hand.

Style is different, and is typically how you format and structure a story, including punctuation, spellings, etc., but can often change from one story to the next (particularly if you submit your stories to multiple sources, who each insist on a different style guide).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

I do know that when an author has a strong voice their work carries an impact that other's work does not. I also know it is something that is learned or should I say absorbed as one practices their craft.

More than anything else, an author's voice is a combination of an author's natural inclinations, and what works best for them. So your first story is simply the most naturally YOU. It conveys how YOU speak, what which 'voice' most inspires you, and the writing style (as opposed to style guide) you use.

However, that's all tempered by what you discover about that voice over time. Some things you'll try will fall flat, or readers simply don't respond to it, so you change it over time. Thus your voice will adapt over time. This isn't you changing you voice, as much as it is your adapting your voice. Most of all, you always need to consider that voice as being 'distinctly yours', so casual readers will associate that way of telling a story with you.

I've always preferred to pick a book, by opening it to a random page, in the middle of a chapter, and picking a random sentence in the middle of a paragraph (first and/or last sentences tend to summarize the paragraph for effect), and if that single sentence captivates my attention, I know I can read the entire story and love it, regardless of the plot! THAT is the sign of a successful writer's voice. It's their way of conveying a story (as opposed to who they are as an individual).

Crumbly Writer

One last lengthy piece, as I want to address your (Darian's) understanding of a stories theme. I'm a big believer in story themes. Each of my stories has a different theme, which is essentially not the plot, but what the reader gets out of the story (i.e. what it teaches them about life, by reading the story).

Thus, before I write any story, I consider how I want the reader to interpret the story (i.e. get from it), and then I focus the story around that.

For example, in my Great Death series, where EVERYONE dies during the first book, the theme is perseverance. How what distinguishes people, and actions, is whether they continue, or are merely abandoned whenever it's convenient. However, I also use theme as a guide for when to break books apart. If a particular part of the story has a different message to tell readers, then it's time to end the one story and begin another, so you can focus on the new theme, and mold the entire story around THAT theme.

Now Darian, your formal definition of how to construct a theme is nice, as a start, but it's a bit too formal for my tastes. The fact that it does everything in twos seems especially rigid. Only two tastes, only two outside references, only two numbers? It just seems a bit arbitrary. That's good for a beginners guide, but the individual author is expected to modify it to suit themselves their 'voice' over time.

If you're good at descriptions, you'll probably delve into more than only two tastes, if you like complex plots, you'll probably include more than two outside references to other stories. However, keeping a couple essential elements, of each type, to flavor your story with makes sense, as it gives each story a consistency that reinforces my interpretation of a book's theme. If you want readers to get a specific message about how to live life from your story, then reinforcing the central elements makes sense. After all, you're not just telling a story, but you're casting the story in a particular way so readers can better interpret it, and get a grasp, on just on the overall story, but on the characters within it.

Note: My use of theme is distinct from a story's Moral. I tend to stay away from morals, as they're often nebulous and don't always withstand the test of time, but how you interpret a story is more universal, and is a way for readers to extrapolate the story into a wider perspective giving it more resonance to their lives. It's essentially the 'handle' you provide for readers to grasp and interpret the story, regardless of what happens in the plot (making plot and theme two completely different entities).

Hope that helps, but I suspect it'll only confuse you more.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

I agree that two is rigid. It was a requirement inherent in the SSA model that I was using a modified form of when I was writing the story. You could have just as easily used 3 or twenty if you're that good(I'm not).

I found your observation concerning the differences between plot, themes, and morals to be spot on. My understanding is still a little basic on theme as the word is somewhat nebulous to me even after reading the definition for the millionth time. It always has been. I look at it like this:

Theme: Hot rods

Plot: the step by step story of how Jack steals the hot rod.

Moral: Whether or not it was correct for Jack to steal the Hot Rod.

That's how I view. Did I catch the flavor?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

No, a writer's voice is similar across stories, it's what defines your stories (short, concise, intense, or detailed and ornate, descriptive, or any number of other styles).


Sorry, CW, I disagree with this. It's been my experience the author's voice and style will vary between stories due to a number of reasons. While it is possible for an author to keep the same voice and style it's more likely the voice will change if they change the style or point of view.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

It's dangerous thinking of the narrator as 'the author', because then everything the narrator says is what you yourself think,


That's not what I meant. The author should never be present in the story. I said the narrative is in the author's voice.

An omni narrator is a character. If they're in the story, like Death in "The Book Thief," then it's a 1st-person omni narrator. If not, then it's a 3rd-person omni narrator. But the narrator can have a personality either way.

In 3rd-limited, the narrative is more neutral. The way the narrative is written is the author's voice, not the author.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

There's a growing field that involves studying works of literature to determine whether their attributions are genuine, much like there is in art where criteria such as brushwork, palette etc are considered.

While I think it's possible for an author to deliberately tailor their voice/style (I used to do it when editing the works of others), some authors are very distinctive. I'd consider both you and CW to be in that class.

My writers' group occasionally has 'guess the author' sessions. It's interesting that the course junkies are the most difficult to tell apart because there a lot of sameness about their voice/styles, something I personally consider not to be a good thing.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

The author should never be present in the story.


I'm not sure what you mean by that. If the work has strong biographical aspects, how can the author not be present?

Mary Sue stories tend to be very popular on SOL. Those have a lot of the author in them too.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

If the work has strong biographical aspects


I was talking about fiction.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
richardshagrin

For stroke stories, the o in voice is silent, and the authors vice is what matters.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I was talking about fiction too.

Novice authors particularly tend to write what they know. Sometimes in SOL story descriptions they mention that their stories are based on real-life events, but even when they don't, their stories are representative of the culture in which they grew up. I think it's more or less inevitable that the author is present in those stories to some extent.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

I think it's more or less inevitable that the author is present in those stories to some extent.


If the reader hears the author in the story and the author isn't a 1st-person narrator, then I believe it's a problem.

Of course authors will use their experiences. That's part of "write what you know." But it should be told in a way that it's not the author relaying his experiences or values (3rd-person limited).

You hear the author in the following:

Joe lit a cigarette. The Surgeon General determined cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer. Joe inhaled anyway.


Now take the author out of it.

Joe lit a cigarette.

"Do you really wanna do that?" Sally asked. "You know cigarettes cause cancer."

Joe inhaled anyway.

Darian Wolfe

@Switch Blayde

Is an author able to write something that is outside his experience? I don't know that I can. For example, I couldn't write a light airy feel-good story if you put a gun to my head. It's just not in my lexicon of life experiences.

I get nervous around too much happiness as it makes me wonder when the anvil is going to fall. I can write about moments of joy and the trials between them, that I know about.

I can generalize from somewhat similar experiences and paste together what I think may occur. I don't think I can create from whole cloth. Is that from being a novice or is it a peculiarity of personality? Any thoughts?

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Of course authors will use their experiences. That's part of "write what you know." But it should be told in a way that it's not the author relaying his experiences or values (3rd-person limited).


But how can an author do that without obviously using their own voice, or do you think that the use of 3rd-person is sufficient distancing?

AJ

Switch Blayde

@Darian Wolfe

Is an author able to write something that is outside his experience?


Of course. Do you think Stephen King experienced the horrific things he writes about?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


But how can an author do that without obviously using their own voice, or do you think that the use of 3rd-person is sufficient distancing?


I think using 3rd-limited correctly is sufficient distancing.

I gave an example in my previous post. I'm very much against cigarettes. They killed my sister. So I may want to promote that in my story. In my previous post I showed two ways of doing it. The 1st is the author talking to the reader. The second does it without the author directly involved.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

I look at it like this:

Theme: Hot rods

Plot: the step by step story of how Jack steals the hot rod.

Moral: Whether or not it was correct for Jack to steal the Hot Rod.

That's how I view. Did I catch the flavor?

Well, my definition of 'theme' isn't the same as you'll find in most dictionaries, as it incorporates a little more, and is more useful in determining what to include in each story and what not to.

For me, the 'theme' of your example might be: "Redemption defines one more than their initial acts or words do."

Again, in my book, the theme isn't related to the plot, or the plot elements—in fact, it's completely independent of it. Instead, it's how the reader is supposed to apply the story to his own life, and more importantly, how he's supposed to evaluate the story based on his real-life experiences.

Thus, I'll keep checking back on my theme to determine how to present each story element, so the reader has an easier time relating to what's happening in the story.

Again, the Moral is "it WAS wrong to steal the Hot Rod", but the theme is how you 'flavor the story', so it's more like a spike (ex: cumin or paprika), as opposed to the contents (ex: beef or mutin chops, wich would represent the plot). It simply makes the story easier to consume, and it improves the overall appeal of the story.

But again, you'll never find that definition anywhere else!

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Sorry, CW, I disagree with this. It's been my experience the author's voice and style will vary between stories due to a number of reasons. While it is possible for an author to keep the same voice and style it's more likely the voice will change if they change the style or point of view.

I agree with that, but only to a certain degree. Since a writer's voice is, essentially, their professional calling card, it's important that they're consistent in how they present themselves. They can change the wording, or how it's presented, but if I suddenly started writing in a "Jack Reacher" style (to borrow another example presented a few times recently), my readers are all going to ask "What the fuck gives? Where's Vincent and his writing?"

An author's voice is more than just the narrative, it's how you identify an author just by glancing at a single page of their story.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

An omni narrator is a character. If they're in the story, like Death in "The Book Thief," then it's a 1st-person omni narrator. If not, then it's a 3rd-person omni narrator. But the narrator can have a personality either way.

In 3rd-limited, the narrative is more neutral. The way the narrative is written is the author's voice, not the author.

Yes, that's assumed. But in my limited experience, I've found that view more limiting. By identifying who the narrator is, even if it's just 'random fireside storyteller', it helps me evaluate how the narrative 'voice' should flow (note: I quoted voice in this instance, because I'm drawing a distinction between the author's voice (his identifiable writing style) and the narrators (his cadence, his accent, how formal or informal his is).

Once again, I've expanded the traditional definitions to include items I've discovered more useful over the years. So feel free to reject my distinctions, I'm simply presenting them as an alternative way of approaching a 3rd person omni or 1st person limited narrative to make it more 'authentic'.

Also, when I have a specific narrator, they're still presented in the 3rd-person omni perspective (because they're familiar with all the details of the story), but they have their own personalities. It's only in the final chapter, the final epilogue, that I reveal the specific narrator's perspective (like in my "Demonic Issues" stories, it turned out to be the master alien race who created all the fairies and demons, but who'd lost their way). As such, it presents a wonderful way to turn a story on it's head during the final conclusion, which provides a nice twist (again, a technique which isn't for everyone).

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

The author should never be present in the story.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. If the work has strong biographical aspects, how can the author not be present?

I agree with Switch here. The author's motivation for telling a particular story is completely independent of the story they ultimately tell. Trying to tie the two together leads readers to assume, as they often do, that anything a character says is literally 'the author stating their opinion'.

That's a dangerous precedent to set. Just because an author likes Mary Sue characters, it doesn't mean he's THE Mary Sue in the story.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I think it's more or less inevitable that the author is present in those stories to some extent.

Again, there's a BIG difference between an interest, a focus and an author's expertise, and their 'place' in the actual story. Essentially, every story is a compilation of the author's experiences, but the story are still about completely fictional characters. Even in Mary Sue stories, the characters often do what the authors never dreamed of doing in real life, so you can hardly claim the story reflects the author. Even though they are based on real-life events, they are no more realistic than the TV shows that claim the exact same thing.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

You hear the author in the following:

Joe lit a cigarette. The Surgeon General determined cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer. Joe inhaled anyway.

Now take the author out of it.

Joe lit a cigarette.

"Do you really wanna do that?" Sally asked. "You know cigarettes cause cancer."

Joe inhaled anyway.

That's otherwise known as "author intrusion", as opposed to the "author's" or "narrator's" voice.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

Is an author able to write something that is outside his experience? I don't know that I can. For example, I couldn't write a light airy feel-good story if you put a gun to my head. It's just not in my lexicon of life experiences.

Sure they can. Granted, an author is not going to write about something they're unfamiliar with, or which they think isn't 'genuine', but people write about other people's experiences all the time.

Women write about men protagonists, and men write about black and Hispanic characters. If the author is always the 'character', then that wouldn't even be remotely possible. What everyone is discussing is part of the author's voice (their person way of presenting a story, which paints the story as being uniquely theirs), rather than any given story being 'about' them.

My next story on SOL is about a lesbian NYC police detective. How much of that do you think is biographical? Authors research what they don't know. Not everything is about them personally.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

But how can an author do that without obviously using their own voice, or do you think that the use of 3rd-person is sufficient distancing?

You're narrowing into the distinction between perspective, narrator, author's voice and the author themselves. They're all distinct, but there's still a lot of overlap between them.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

That's otherwise known as "author intrusion", as opposed to the "author's" or "narrator's" voice.


I wasn't talking about author voice. I responded to Awnlee saying: "I think it's more or less inevitable that the author is present in those stories to some extent."

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

definition of 'theme'

Breaks down to the me. What YOU think is important.

Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

I believe I see what you're saying. I'll need to marinate in that a bit as you're right. That is a unique definition. Still, it looks to be a good one.

In reference to your reply to my statement about writing outside your experience. A recent story of mine "Terri" dealt with a lesbian bondage situation. I am not female. But I have touched a few and know how it feels to be touched by someone you really want. Hence I was able to cobble together a response.

(Totally random bitch - I am in a Migraine phase so I go to my quiet area and my wife follows me and turns on the brightest lights and my loudest adult child follows her and they are talking loudly. sometimes I FUCKING HATE LIFE! - end rant)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

(Totally random bitch - I am in a Migraine phase so I go to my quiet area and my wife follows me and turns on the brightest lights and my loudest adult child follows her and they are talking loudly. sometimes I FUCKING HATE LIFE! - end rant)

That's why migraine sufferers (primarily women) very often hide in closets, where most family don't typically look. No lights, a slight sound muffling, and a little solitude.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Crumbly Writer

Lol Thank you, I needed that. Unfortunately only one closet has a door and my youngest has it packed full.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I'm not totally convinced.

I've read too many stories in which the author has used characters to espouse their favourite economic/political/religious ideals and it comes across as almost as intrusive as your first example.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Darian Wolfe

Is an author able to write something that is outside his experience?


That's a controversial question.

Many of the bubbleheads who self-promote the loudest on social media claim that the answer is 'no'.

I've seen agents particularly claim that a white author can't write a convincing 'person of colour', character, a man can't write a convincing woman character, an old adult can't write a convincing young adult character, a straight character can't write a convincing gay/transgender character etc.

However, there are also writing authorities who have a different view, that authors should write the story they want to tell and don't worry about what others think, that the shared characteristics of being human outweigh the differences.

Personally, if I felt my story required something outside my experience, I'd use my imagination. Virtually every hugely successful novel has flaws in the minute details, but only a few pedants care so long as the author has followed the rule of writing what's entertaining rather than accurate.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

I've read too many stories in which the author has used characters to espouse their favourite economic/political/religious ideals and it comes across as almost as intrusive as your first example.


Then they did it poorly. Or the character is used to push a belief, like Ayn Rand did.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Ernest Bywater

@Darian Wolfe

Is an author able to write something that is outside his experience? I don't know that I can.


If you work at, you can, but it ain't easy, and it often takes some research too. I've done it a few times.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Is an author able to write something that is outside his experience? I don't know that I can.

If you work at, you can, but it ain't easy, and it often takes some research too. I've done it a few times.

Writing "What you know" is what gives you the confidence to write what you don't. Writing what you don't, is part of what makes you a skilled and polished author. Being able to write from a variety of perspectives gives you the versatility to create truly rich and complete characters. Sadly, I haven't yet reached that particular pinnacle.

BlacKnight

If you've ever read the Dragaera books by Steven Brust (you probably haven't; he's an amazing author who isn't read nearly as widely as he should be), they're an excellent illustration of how different books, even by the same author, can have very different authorial voices, and authorial voice can be used as a tool for shaping the feel of a story.

The Dragaera setting started out with a series of novels focusing on Vlad Taltos, a human assassin and mob boss in an elven ("Dragaeran") organized crime syndicate in the Dragaeran Empire. They're (mostly) written 1st-person from Vlad's perspective, as if Vlad were telling the story to someone after the fact, and Vlad is a casual and not necessarily entirely reliable narrator whose voice is reminiscent of Zelazny's Corwin of Amber.

One of the later books switches 1st-person PoV between Vlad and Kiera the Thief, and Kiera's narrative voice is subtly but noticeably different than Vlad's. There's another that's 3rd-person limited from a side character's PoV, which I think is the weakest of the series, largely because it doesn't have a clear narrative voice.

Then there's Brokedown Palace, which is in the same setting but in human lands outside the Dragaeran Empire, and is basically Brust telling a Hungarian-style fairy tale in the setting. It's written in 3rd-person omniscient, in a much more classic-fairy-tale style than the casual and snarky Vlad books. It doesn't literally start with, "Once upon a time," but it might well have, and it wouldn't have felt out of place.

And then there are the Khaavren Romances, which are basically The Three Musketeers set in Dragaera. They're framed as dramaticized histories/historical fiction written in-universe around Vlad's time about events hundreds of years earlier by a Dragaeran historian called Paarfi. They're written 3rd-person omniscient with a narrator who isn't actually omniscient (and who will occasionally even admit that). Paarfi has a very formal and flowery narrative voice, deliberately reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas's, and about as far from Vlad's casual storytelling as you can get. The first book in the series has two "About the Author" end notes; one Paarfi telling about Steven Brust in his elaborate and formal manner, and the other Brust telling about Paarfi of Roundwood, in a style much more similar to the voice of the Vlad books.

One of the later books in the setting, Tiassa, has sections focusing both on Vlad and on Khaavren (the d'Artagnan expy, main character of most of the Khaavren Romances), and Brust switches between Vlad's narrative voice and Paarfi's when he switches focus.

Brust is prone to messing with structure and voice, and I highly recommend reading him for anyone who's interested not just in a good read, but in (generally successful) experiments with the craft of writing.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@BlacKnight

I loved Brust. Remember the convo between the drummer and the body guard on percussion.That rocked and who can forget the swearword "By the blood on Vera"s floor." Great stuff. Still have them laying around here somewhere.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@Darian Wolfe

He's still writing.

Admittedly, Tiassa came out in 2011, Hawk in 2014, and the most recent, Vallista, in 2017. Which you wouldn't know, visiting his website, since he hasn't updated the publication info in ages.

And pretty much all of his work is now available as eBooks.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@JohnBobMead

Thanks for letting me know.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@Darian Wolfe

I hadn't checked for quite some time, myself.

I obtained Tiassa in 2013, and Hawk and Vallista in late January of this year.

So it had been five years since I had checked to see if he had any new books out.

Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Then they did it poorly. Or the character is used to push a belief, like Ayn Rand did.


And like Heinlein did in the voice of Lazarus Long in, well, just about every story in which Long appeared. Although I rather liked his defense of incest in To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

His cranky complaint in "Sunset" that "back then" (1920s USA?) women didn't work outside the home was kind of tiresome.

bb

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Bondi Beach

I love Lazurus. Jubal Harshaw was pretty fun as well. I hope I'm as a great a bastard as he was when I'm that old but I don't seem to be hitting the mark.

Geek of Ages

I found basically all of Heinlein's self-insert characters (which is most of his protagonists) to be insufferable. Thankfully as a teen I was already used to suffering, so continuing through his books wasn't too difficult.

I just wish, in retrospect, that I'd spent the time reading good fiction.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@Geek of Ages

That's the amazing thing about fiction. One man's garbage is another man's treasure and one man's treasure is another man's garbage.

That's why I just state a preference and then move on to more agreeable topics.

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