Someone the other day said they could hear my voice in my blogs. It made me think about this style of writing and how it differs to my writing in my novel. Blogging is conversational, unfiltered, sometimes funny, simple to read. I add in way too many conjunctions and I probably do actually blog the way I talk.
The people who’ve read my story often comment that after the first paragraphs, they get over the fact that they’re reading something Holly has written and get completely absorbed into the writing. Sometimes they have stop and think about the fact that this had come from my head. Especially the darker, sexier scenes!
But my story writing is very different to writing a blog post. In my story writing, I use imagination, certain techniques such as change in vocabulary, POV and perspective. I create settings, realistic dialogue, imagery and characterisation. I use action to speed scenes along or exposition to slow it right down. My sentences are purposefully crafted and cut to flow in certain rhythms and tone. I create moods through objects, colour, scents and sounds. And my syntax is deliberate to affect the readers engagement with the story.
Different characters require different voices, manners of speaking and the way they think. You have to be that character to write in their voice.
For me, blogging doesn’t require that kind of writing. It’s like a diary and I only write one draft.
But I love blogs and the ease of writing and reading them. However, writing novels requires writing, rewriting, editing, adding and subtracting, shuffling certain elements. It’s a craft requiring skill and experience.
The other strange difference about my voice in The Hidden compared to this voice here is I don’t actually know where it comes from. I’m in a different state of mind, and therefore the words come out ordered differently, awkwardly, purposefully. Take this rough draft of my sequel. When I read it, I don’t feel like it’s actually my own voice.
It’s Claire, my protagonist’s voice and she’s angry, bitter and conniving in this scene. Also quite talkative to the reader, trying to get you on her side.
“I hung my neck back over the deckchair and waited for the kiss. A faint hint of sweat and tired cologne hung off him. I tapped my lips, kissed him tightly. We were happy, a husband and wife happy with a happy marriage; something that most marriages weren’t, that most husband and wives strived to be. But we didn’t use to be. That memory always taunted me there in the corner like a bratty child ready to dob on me for all that I’d done, for all that he didn’t yet know.
I never greeted Tom with, how was work, or what do you feel like for dinner or how was your day? No, those questions prompted the death in a marriage, made the marriage routine and predictable. I often prided myself on how unique I’d invented my greetings. Not that he knew. As far as he was concerned, something had taken a hold of his wife and he seemed to relish in our every meeting. My greetings were much more delicious than typical wives.
‘Bend in front of the kids so they can’t see you and suck on my nipples,’ I whispered over his lips.
Tom’s raised eyebrows and throaty laughter meant that once again, I’d nailed it.
The beer dangling from his fingertips was quickly forgotten and that’s how I knew that Tom loved me. Me versus beer: the greatest competition and I’d won.”
And other times my writing can be descriptive about characters:
“This man, in all his beefiness, sat examining me from his chair. Thumbs twiddling. Mouth cocked to the side in a smug, arrogant manner. He enjoyed the pain on my face and it oozed from him. He wanted failure. We read each other, sizing one another up. The clock above his muscled head ticked along to the beat of my pulse. Whenever I met rude people, I liked to compare them to animals. This man was a pit-bull, straining at the leash. All muscle, tight-squared face, teeth too big for his mouth. Ugly. In looks and nature, with not much going on upstairs.
I suddenly felt better than him.”
And then slowed right down to quickly cover a scene and a false contented mood:
“There would be a dinner that night. Candles would be lit and the outdoor terrace table would be set with fine cutlery and linen napkins. A bowl of white roses would combine with the scent of vanilla candles and seafood. Wine glasses would be filled, cheese-platters picked at and soft music would serenade the company. Tom would be into it as much as I would, because this is what we did now. Invited guests for dinner, held lavish lunches and brunches and welcomed children for playdates as though it had always been this way. We were really good at hiding our past.”
And sometimes my voice can be whimsical, yet dark:
“The pier is long, weather beaten with splatters of bird droppings and sharp splinters. Underneath, the murky green water slaps up against the poles. It isn’t enticing or clear. Closer to the shore, reeds sprout in clumps amongst grey sand and pebbles. But I’m not noticing that. The boathouse is to the left of us, and behind it, a crumbling building made of pale stone. A cluster of firs surrounds the area, their leaves a shade of rust. A picture book house. Rapunzel’s tower.”
And sometimes written in present tense, 1st person POV (which also changes the style and pace of voice)
“I have no idea why he’s brought us here or how he knows about this place, but I’ve learnt to stop asking questions. Heathwood Island, our home for the next— however long, is just in sight, sprawled across the lake as if owning the water.
I don’t care about the wind drying my eyes, the chill on my bare calves. Charles’ hair acts like an additional body part, whipping, flapping in the wind. All I care about is, why here?
The boat pitches and a seagull flies overhead, scoping us out. It seems to delight in the breeze carrying it towards the island. It swerves and swoops, making a horrible sound over the rumble of the wind.
We’re approaching a wooded point, and from what I could see, the beach is more pebble than sand. The pine woods stretch up into a hill, dense and rising fifty yards from the beach. I want a guide, someone to explain what every nook leads into. I want him to stop making this seem like an adventure. The kids know now, so he can cut the bullshit. Instead, Charles stares in front, steering the boat over the shifting water, and I cannot face him any longer. Beyond the point is a headland of rockery, each boulder stacked on top of another. Some rocks curve around gaps of darkness.
‘Are there caves on the island?’ I hear Coop. He’d be fascinated by this. Like some sort of adventure from his books. But this is not an adventure. His father has brought us here and I think I know why, even though I’m not yet ready to admit it.”
And sometimes 2nd person which REALLY forces you into the story…
“You notice her across the street, browsing the fruit baskets. She picks up a banana and sniffs it. Who sniffs a banana? A plum maybe, a mango definitely, but a banana? You instantly feel your crouch tighten. Your jeans are much too stiff.
Seeing her in the flesh like this, out of her house, hair curling just below her bony shoulder blades. You’ve have seen every part of her. Like a cherry, you’ve seen her ripen. You’ve seen her insecurities as she cries into her fluffy dressing gown at night, the way she applies lipstick over pulpy lips. You’ve watched her cook a stir fry and burn toast. You’ve seen those pale legs, cross-legged on the bed, just out of reach. You’ve zoomed your camera onto the title of the book she read and uploaded the footage to the web. People enjoyed watching her, just the way you always had.”
So no, my blogging voice is not the same as my proper writing voice, but I agree it’s more my own.
To blog with a voice or not to blog with a voice, in the end none of it matters. It all comes down to writing and creating, which is what I’m all about.
Thanks for reading!