This post has nothing to do with the stated theme of the week, but you will take it, and you will say “thank you”.
The truth is, I had a rough night, peeps. (One of those post-critique-group sleeps where you are excited because you know where to take your WIP and terrified because you know where to take your WIP.) And while much of the time I’m okay to walk a tightrope between irony and megalomania, today I know I’d slip off. That wouldn’t be pretty.
It’s not that I can’t handle the blood. I’m an ex-physician, okay? I just can’t handle the laundry.
So, how about a discussion that’s somewhat relevant to February and that still revolves about me? (Oh, lookee; this may even work out.)
A bit over a year ago, I took a class on Voice by Barbara Samuel/O’Neal. The exercise she gave us was to write the first page of a book we enjoyed — verbatim — then play with it. Being the good little Hope that I am, I did a fab job. Well, except for my reading comprehension issues. 🙁 Where Barbara intended us to change only punctuation and phrasing — in essence, adjust cadence alone — I went a little wild.
I inserted characters. I wrote four versions of this passage, each more distant from the original than the next, so like serial photocopies, the final product — ah, why don’t I just shut up and show you?
From The Trouble with Valentine’s Day by RITA award-winning Rachel Gibson:
Valentine’s Day sucked the big one.
Kate Hamilton lifted a mug of hot buttered rum to her mouth and drained the last drop. On the “things that suck” scale, it ranked somewhere between falling on her face in public and her great-aunt Edna’s bologna pie. One was painful and embarrassing, while the other was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
Kate lowered the mug and licked the corners of her mouth. The hot rum heated her up from the inside out, warmed her skin and cast the room about her in a nice, cozy glow. Yet it did nothing to lift her mood.
She was feeling sorry for herself, and she hated that. She wasn’t the sort of woman to sit around and get all weepy. She was the sort to get on with life, but there was nothing like one whole day devoted to lovers to make a single girl feel like a loser.
A whole day of hearts and flowers, chocolate candy and naughty undies delivered to someone else. Someone undeserving. Someone who wasn’t her. Twenty-four hours to remind her that she slept alone, usually in a sloppy T-shirt. A whole day to point out that she was just one bad relationship away from throwing in the towel. From giving up her Fendi pumps for Hush Puppies. From driving to the animal shelter and adopting a cat.
Now my bastardized version:
“I’ll have your baby if you’ll play some Nine Inch Nails,” Kate Hamilton said, as she cradled her second Spanish coffee in her hands. Normally she wouldn’t make an offer like that to a sixty year-old man. Not when her CPR needed recertification. But desperate times called for desperate measures, and after being mocked by Michael Bublé for thirty consecutive minutes, she was ready for action.
The bartender recovered quickly, his lips curving beneath his moustache in an understanding smile. “Not a fan of Valentine’s Day, I take it?”
She snorted. “Not hardly.” What was there to like about the one day of the year when you had your single status rubbed in your face, over and over again? When the only naughty underwear coming your way was billed to your own Visa? When you’d caught yourself staring at an elderly woman’s elasticized waistband? With envy?
“I’ll see what I can do.” He moved down the bar toward the sound system, swiping the mahogany surface with a dishtowel as he went. Moments later, the bass thrum of U and UR Hand began. She threw back her head in laughter and flashed him the thumbs-up sign.
Now, there are things about that passage I would change in retrospect, but I think it’s relatively true to my present-day limited third voice. Dawn, Donna, would you agree?
I guess my question here is twofold:
1. You know how you’re supposed to have an idea of authors you somewhat resemble when you pitch? Well assume I took the above voice and spun it into an 80,000-word contemporary romance. Who do I sound like to you? This is not a trick question in any way. I’m genuinely curious.
2. If you write, what do you write? And if you have a sense of who your voice resembles, who would that be?