Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Find your VOICE at the end of your book!

I'm working with a mentor, Lewis Buzbee. I've written 2 novels, and set them aside. I was going to work on the second one with Lewis, but during one of our meetings I had an idea. This new book idea wouldn't leave me alone, so instead of revising one of my novels with him, I decided to write a whole new one. 

Talk about making it hard on yourself! But, the great part about writing something completely new, with the editing help of someone so much more advanced in this business, is you get to the meat of your story much faster. 

And, I'm forced to write everyday. I have to have 50 pages done per month - and so I'm kicking my own butt to get them done. 

What I have found is this:

  • My voice is much clearer because I am not editing - I'm writing - just to get 50 pages done my fingers have to fly without stopping or going back to revise

  • I'm not thrown off course - without a critique group with many other voices chiming in - I'm writing my idea - my thoughts - my characters - not someone else's

My character's voices are much stronger because I have no time to waste. I'm not going back and looking at previous chapters. I am getting deeper into my characters faster. So when I do go back and rewrite - I will have a solid voice to pull from. 


This is the beginning of my 1st chapter that I turned in three months ago.

I already had leopard spots on my neck and two peacock feathers growing from behind my ears. That was enough animalia for me. I liked my human body. I was one of the last in my whole town. I still had most of my flesh and bones. 

My friends didn't get it. I mean if you could run like a cheetah or fly like an eagle, why wouldn't you? The only ones who didn't have animalia were the poor. I’m sure some of my friends thought I couldn't afford the upgrades. If they only knew what I just turned down, they’d die.

This is the beginning my first chapter now, after writing more and really getting to know my character. 

Chapter One

Mom's voice comes over the speaker. "Payton! We are waiting." 

I'm late, as always, and she's annoyed, as always. So I don't answer her, as always. It would take me five minutes to walk out of my walk-in closet, and through my bedroom, past my living room, to the intercom anyway. I throw on my black skinnies, she hates black. Of course, I'm the only Whitworth to be born with sable hair, not blond, in five generations. It's like I was born to irk her. Adding a black t-shirt I know she'll despise even more because it has a worn out photo of Granddad's favorite rock band, Van Halen, on it, I mosey out of the overly huge wardrobe. 

I'm not in a super hurry because I know what they want to talk about, animalia. It will go something like this.

"Payton, darling, you have to have animal parts graft to your entire body so you can get into a good institution."
"No I don't, Mom."
"You will choose shark skin, that way you can start winning swim meets again, and make us proud parents again."
"I'm not doing it."
"The surgeon will be here in fifteen minutes."
"Then I will stab my eyeball with this dull butter knife."


I think you'll agree that the voice in the second version is much stronger. That's because I kept writing until I got to the end of my book, and then went back and revised the 1st chapter. Before that, I let everything stand as is.

Many writers get caught up in the never ending circle of revision. If you try to revise your first chapters without really knowing the end of your novel, that will happen to you. 

You must write your ending before you can revise your beginning. Even if you are using an outline, characters will go off course. They will make braver choices. If you allow them, they will take you to a place you never dreamed you'd go. 

So wait for the end. Don't stop. Keep on writing. Don't worry about those first beginning chapters. They will change, but you're not ready yet. You won't know your character completely until you've spent the entire book with them.

Keep going - get to the end.

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