One of the things that’s been hardest about this project is developing the voice. Because I made the decision to go with third person rather than first, I’ve had to push myself to find the voice of the story instead of just the one narrator.
Voice is the one thing that can save or kill a story. My first book was a wreck, but it got me my agent and my publishing deal pretty much on the strength of the voice. Since this lacks a lot of the humor of Deathday, and comes from an omniscient POV I’ve struggled to find a balance in the voice. It needs to match the story, but also represent the character we’re following. This is the sort of thing I’d usually work out over the course of the book, and then iron out the missteps during revisions, but by writing the book in this manor, it’s forced me to dig deep for the voice right from the start. I think only time will tell how successful I’ve been.
I use music (dark, moody country for this book) and movies and TV shows and lots and lots of newspaper articles to sort of get into that space where these characters live. I have people in my life that talk like my characters, and my parents live in a similarly rural town, so I’ve seen these kinds of places. But I’m drawing on more than that for the voice. Especially in the TODAY sections, there’s this gritty fatalism that runs through it. The YESTERDAY sections are going to have more of the lighter, hopeful moments, but TODAY does the majority of the heavy lifting, so getting the voice just right is key. And that applies to every single word choice I make. On Wednesday when I post the first draft, you’ll see some of the decisions I made.
When it comes to a story, I know I may not always make the right decisions, but I try to have a reason for every decision I make. I think that’s a really important thing. Even if people hate something you’ve done, and you go back and change it later, you should at least be able to say why you did it. Because just doing something…choosing a word or naming a character…for no reason at all is like doing your job blindfolded.