Last week I started working on the first draft of my novel. It’s an adult fantasy with a female protagonist that takes place in a Bronze Age inspired world. I got 1,200 words done and was quite happy with how much I accomplished that day.
A few days later I started reading over it and playing with the words, rearranging things – all that typical revision business. As I was doing so, something wasn’t sitting right with me. After much thought, I realized it was a problem with voice.
My voice was inconsistent. The parts where I was describing the setting, my voice tended towards the poetic, to the point of being overly voluminous. Then when I’d go into the character’s inner thoughts and actions, my words were brisk and had a more modern ring to them. The style and tone, and hence my voice, were all over the place.
I had thankfully checked out Writing Voice from the library, and I started reading through it. There is so much wisdom in this book and it spoke to me exactly when and where I needed it. My voice was inauthentic. I’d been very focused lately on trying to learn from a few different writers, experimenting with their style – especially if they were popular. But of course, if those styles, those voices, didn’t have much in common with my own, every word I put down would feel contrived.
Another issue is that I don’t think I really thought through who I was writing this book for. Who is my audience? What tone do I want the book to have? What genre or subgenre does it fall into, and hence, what tone should I use?
And while I could spend a couple of months working on trying to find my authentic voice for this novel, I figured that perhaps the best course of action would be to continue working on things in a voice that I feel confident with. Let myself practice some more with short fiction a bit. I still want to come back to this novel, but I think, in order to do it justice, I need to set it aside for a while and work on honing my skills some more.
So, what exactly do I feel confident in writing at the moment?
I have two things in particular that come naturally to me. The first is short form action/adventure sword and sorcery. My third story, Khelyon and the Desert Golem, fell into this category and when I wrote it, the words and voice and style all came easy to me. The second is short form cozy fantasy. It feels natural for me to paint a picture of settings and characters that draw influence from the warm, inviting bits of fantasy stories and fairy tales that I love. And I find it uplifting and enjoyable.
Which brings me to my idea for my next writing project. I have brainstormed multiple characters and settings in the world of “The Road to Fjallmark”, and I think what I’d like to do is to create a book of short stories and flash fiction that all tie in to that world, and the town of Forsbyr and its inhabitants specifically. Most of the stories would fall into that cozy fantasy spectrum. Some are humorous, some heartwarming, and some full of wonder. And there would be a common thread winding through them all that would forge them together into a thematically coherent book.
So I guess that’s that. I’ve been in a great mood coming up with ideas for the project and I feel confident and excited and ready to get to work!