Snow and Voice

This morning, we Indiana folk had a bit of early snow.

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As you can see, many of our trees are still wearing the last tatters of autumn fashion. It’s an odd thing, seeing golden leaves above fresh snow. It wasn’t much more than a dusting of white, and it disappeared by the afternoon. But it must have startled the trees before it melted because most dumped their remaining leaves in a hurry, leaving us with puddles of color on the snow. Temps overnight will hit the upper teens. By Sunday, temps will hit 60. It’s all “normal” for the awkwardness or season-transition.

I’ve had my own transition awkwardness going on the writing front. Every one of the learning novels I’ve written–those that contribute to my million words of crap–has been fantasy. Pseudo-Celtic in the beginning, then created pre-industrial worlds. The voice in those novels evolved over time, and the voice for Sword and Chant is distinct from Sand of Bone, but they all shared certain traits that mark them as more traditional fantasy tales. I can play with language–rhythm, flow, word choice, and patterns–in a way that, to my ear, doesn’t work well in other genres.

Now I’m working on Crossroads of America, set in present-day Indiana. That traditional fantasy voice doesn’t work here. The moment I let my attention wander, especially when I’m feeling the flow of the story, that old voice takes over and the characters suddenly sound as if they’ve been transported from a different culture and time. The process has become one of write, delete, write again, revise, and finally move ahead. Writing forward without revising seems the poorer option to me. The sooner I get comfortable with the modern voice, the sooner the story feels real.

I’m almost there. The last section didn’t contain throw-back metaphors, archaic phrases, or any piece of dialog that sounded too much like iambic pentameter. (I am far too fond of “akin to,” for example.) But I stumble over describing modern settings–a weird writing quirk, if you ask me. After all, if I can give the reader an interesting setting they’ve never seen before, it shouldn’t be hard to describe a bar in downtown Indy. Oh, but it is!

Silliness.

So I feel akin to (there it is!) those trees, holding on to my leaves as the snow flurries move in. Maybe soon, I can drop all those dead leaves, pretty as they are, and move on to the next thing completely. The challenge makes me glad I chose Crossroads as my NaNo project, though. Without the push, I might have let this project sit forever as a “maybe someday” thing. Instead, the story is beginning to connect and I’m gaining greater flexibility as a writer.

Whether I hit 50K or not, I win.

(Can you tell I’m happy with this project? I am!)

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