Good morning wonderful writers, I hope you’ve all had a great week.
This week I finished another set of edits, which I think puts me on draft…7? 8? I’ve lost count! Since I finished my first draft almost a year ago, it has been not stop edits. It’s safe to say my story is a lot more well rounded and polished now.
Yet I’ve been thinking a lot recently about all the advice we writers are given in regards to how we tell our story; show not tell, don’t use this word, don’t use that word, don’t write like this or like that…and it’s difficult because we are also given the almost contrasting advice to break the rules, to be unique, to write the way we want too.
Editing, I’ve learnt, is about finding the balance to strengthen your writing, while staying true to your voice. Writer and blogger K.M.Allan has some great tips and checklists on her blog, to help you find words that are potentially weakening your prose. She also makes the very important point to only delete certain words if they don’t add anything to the sentence, and to keep them if they serve a purpose. This is the kind of advice we should follow!
Because otherwise, we run the risk of losing our voice. And your voice is your one chance to stand out, to be unique to you. So with that in mind, here are some tips on how not to edit away your voice.
1. Don’t remove words from character dialogue
This isn’t to say never edit your character’s dialogue, of course. But remember that words that don’t typically make an impact in prose or descriptions CAN sometimes have an impact on a character’s voice. Your characters shouldn’t all speak the same, and if one of them has a certain way of speaking, or certain words they use a lot, then don’t edit those. Part of having your own writing voice is ensuring your characters have a unique voice of their own.
2. Don’t delete the lines you are proud of
We all have those lines don’t we? Those sentences that make us think, yeah, they’ll quote that on instagram. Those lines that make you swell a little, pride breaking through the doubt. If you are completely happy with the structure of the sentence, even if it goes against “rules”, then keep it. These are your words, and this is your story to tell. Keep the writing you are most proud of, and you’re more likely to come to a finished piece that you can be passionate about.
3. Remember, everybody’s opinions are different
When you start sending your novel out to beta readers, it is easy to think you need to react to every comment they make, or every piece of feedback they give. This is a mistake. If you did this, you would be re-writing your novel for every beta. Don’t get me wrong; their feedback is important, essential even. Personally, having betas has improved my novel and I am so grateful for their support and advice. But everybody is different, and what one reader likes, another reader won’t. What’s important is you listen to the advice, but make the ultimate decision based on what YOU want. It’s your story, after all.
4. Consider point of view
Who’s telling the story, and from what perspective? This has a huge impact on the tone of the novel, and again means you may have to disregard some of the conventional rules to stay true to your voice. For example, parts of my story are told in the form of a letter, written from a young man to his sister. He does a lot of telling, rather than showing. This is because he is writing to her, so it is in a second person narrative. And to me, this character would tell his version of events not show them with clever descriptions and metaphors. And if I edited his voice to show more than tell, then it wouldn’t be him any more.
Do you every worry that you’ve edited so much you’re losing your voice?
It’s something that’s played on my mind a lot so I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Comment below or message me any time to discuss,