Monday, March 7, 2011

Innovation

• Write what you know
• Write what you love to read
• Be true to your voice
• Every writer has their own, distinctive voice
• Write from the heart
• Innovate, don’t Imitate

Since the RNA conference last July, when the editors from HMB repeated that last phrase over and over, we Minxes have discussed ad nauseum what exactly they meant by it. I'm pretty sure I asked “What kind of airy fairy advice is that? Of course they don’t want us to imitate what others have written, but what do they want?”

It took The Vampire Diaries (see my series of previous posts) to make me realise that actually all the above advice, which we’ve heard dozens of times, phrased in endless ways, all boils down to just one thing: when you write, you have to be true to yourself.

I imagine that a lot of you blog readers out there might be going “duh!”. You probably know this already. But it was something I only discovered after a couple of days wallowing and wondering why I even bother to write when clearly my work is nothing more than mediocre, and if there’s one thing I don’t want to be it’s mediocre. I want to be stellar. (And just in case you think I’m being a tad arrogant here, read my earlier post, which were not entirely about The Vampire Diaries).

For me, realising this was a bit of a bombshell. Being true to oneself is the theme of my published novella, Let’s Misbehave. I try to live this in my every day life. So I’m not sure why it took me so long to cotton on when it comes to applying it to writing!

I’m not entirely sure of the answer (feel free to help me out here) but I suspect it might be because I haven’t yet discovered where my voice lies. I think that I fall somewhere between HMB’s Modern Heat and Romance lines (now wonderfully combined into the new Riva line in the UK) because that’s what I love to read. But is it really what I need to write?

We all know (we’ve heard it often enough) that you have to be passionate about what you write, because that passion will come through in your writing. I’d like to take this a step further and add that if you want to be extraordinary, then you need to be more than passionate, you need to write the stories that only you can write.

At last I understand what the editors at HMB are telling us. You have to write the stories that are true to your voice. And your voice is you.

So this is how we can each be extraordinary. By knowing ourselves, by being true to ourselves, we can rise above the mass of romance novels that are being published every day and we can each reach extraordinary heights.

Don’t imitate. You will never be able to write Harry Potter or Twilight, Frankenstein or Wuthering Heights. Not because it’s already been done. Not because you’re not a great writer. But because you are not JK Rowling or Emily Bronte. You’re you, and you should celebrate your uniqueness by writing the stories that are yours, and yours alone.

I know this is easier said than done, and might take a while to figure out, so I’m heading off now to write, and write some more, until I find where my true voice lies. While I’m off finding myself, please feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Have you found your ‘voice’ yet, or are you still searching? Have you tried to write for a certain line and got nowhere only to discover that perhaps your voice lies elsewhere? And do you have any magic tips on how to fast track all this soul searching and jump straight to extraordinary?

5 comments:

Sally Clements said...

It's really difficult, isn't it, Romy? I've certainly tried to write for a certain line and found that my story has taken on a life of its own and written its way into a different type of story than planned. With me, it seems to be the extra characters who want to have a say, have distinct personalities, and won't get out of there! I have no magic tips unfortunately, and am still trying!

Aimee Carson said...

Romy, I always enjoy your thoughtful posts.

"And do you have any magic tips on how to fast track all this soul searching and jump straight to extraordinary?"

Jeez, I wish I did! LOL, wasn't that helpful!

I do believe voice must be found through trial and error. Kind of like blue jeans - we often try on twenty pairs before we find the best fit! (BTW, that's why I hate shopping for clothes)

And thanks to all of your previous posts . . . today my husband is picking up the entire first season of the Vampire Diaries for me! I'll blame you when I get addicted :)

Good luck finding yourself, Romy!

Sutton Fox said...

Very thought provoking post, Romy.

It's so easy sometimes to get swept up in the trend of whatever is 'popular', that I find my 'voice' getting lost in the crowd.

Truly wish I had some wonderful advice to offer! lol. But, alas, none so far.

And thanks for the reminder that our unique voice is most important.

Best of luck finding yourself. :)

Jackie Ashenden said...

Well, I was lucky in that I was told early on which line my voice suited. I'd never read any Modern Heat at that stage but when I did, I knew that yes, this was where my voice sat. Obviously haven't got the magic tick yet so I don't know for certain but writing what you love seems to be the key. I would also say take some chances. Take some risks. It may not always work out but sometimes taking that risk can make you stand out from the crowd.

Kimberly Lang said...

Finding where you fit is always the big task. You have to love it, but it also has to love you (Back to Aimee's clothing metaphor -- some things look much better on the hanger than they do on my body. And some things look great on other people, and make me look like a three-day-dead goat.).

You have the right attitude, though, and that approach will help you find that sweet spot where you'll shine.