Yay! *tosses confetti and streamers*
So, Ari, check your email, okay? I want to get these books to you!
NOW: Writing craft. I've been reading a lot lately, and one thing that's been jumping out at me in a make-or-break sort of way is VOICE. We keep hearing that having a distinct voice is essential, but what does that mean? And more importantly, how do we do it?
Well, I think the most important thing we can do is make sure our character is well-thought out and fully realized. What personality type does this character have? Is she tough-as-nails, or sweet as cotton candy? Does he hold the door for his mother, or stride on through without looking back? Is he the quintessential nerd? Is she in love with her guy, or in love with love? Who are these people?
What is the framework within which their thoughts are built? (AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green is an excellent example of having a well-developed mental framework for each character.) And how will they react emotionally to this situation that they're in? The answers to these questions, more than anything, will dictate their voice, and getting that right can really make your book sing.
And of course, having a distinct way of writing, a distinct cadence, is part of it, too. Garrison Keillor's work is the perfect example of this. Other examples are Roald Dahl (you know a Roald Dahl book by the end of the first page), Dr. Seuss, and Bill Bryson, travel writer extraordinaire.
But then there's the "break" part. I've come across a handful of books in the past couple of months that just haven't resonated with me. The voice was distinct, the background was there... But it just didn't feel right. Most of the time, the character was being snarky in a moment that didn't seem to call for it. I'm not against snarky teens, but there doesn't need to be a comment on every page or at the end of every scene for a reader to get it. Over a whole book, it gets to be too much, and it loses impact.
I wish I had a formula, but I don't. These are just some things to think about. How about you? What book have you read lately that had an outstanding voice? What made it so amazing?