I’m 1/2 way through my scene outline for Iron Mountain and I have to admit that I’m getting jazzed. I really want to get started writing this book! But I’m going to have to do some work to recapture the voice.
I started another draft of this novel something over a year ago. I had the perfect voice going. It’s a bit like my own voice but not entirely. My son lovingly tells me that I sound like a well educated pirate. When cornered, almost literally, he explained that I have a tendency to combine grand-dad’s earthy commentary with the vocabulary that comes with a masters.
I don’t want the novel to sound entirely like me. After all, each book should have its own voice. So like me but not quite. I think of it as how a poem sounds when recited by different readers or, as Lee Wind explained in his post, a song sounds when performed by different artists. The example that Wind gives is “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” He encourages readers to listen to various versions of the song and note how each artist makes it distinct. He provides links to Marvin Gaye, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Slits and more. What is it that makes each performance unique? Figure that out and you’ve got a grip on voice.
The tricky thing is that I know the voice of this book when I hear it. It is in the tones and sentence structure of the people I know in southern Missouri. I heard it in the pages of Winter’s Bone. I wanted to find it in a TED talk by JD Vance but he’s gone polished and loss that homey edge. I know it when I hear it. So as I get ready step into this world, I’ve got to hear it again. I seem to remember the music in O Brother Where Art Thou nodding in the right direction.
Sounds like I’ve got some listening to do.