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Voice Issues

For the last two years, I’ve been trying to write a book I wittily named Out of Time (I like using puns in my titles). So far I’ve written three vastly different chapter outlines, numerous backstory re-writes, and just over 20,000 words of the actual novel. Unfortunately, I’ve had to strip back 12,000 of those words to accommodate the new outlines.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super happy with the alterations. The plot improved each time I revised, and has become something I’m excited to write.

So, why haven’t I finished the novel?

Voice. I’m struggling to find Kasia’s voice.

In the original plan, Kasia was a character full of hopes and dreams. Sure, her situation was terrible, but she pushed her fears aside to pursue her goals. Kasia pretty much vomited rainbows and butterflies.

As you can imagine, she didn’t make a very good narrator. There were times when she was so positive and eager that I wanted to gouge my eyes out.

Cue backstory re-write.

I made her suffer. In fact, I think I went a little too far in terms of psychological trauma. Oops.

Oh well, she lost that annoying Little Miss Sunshine tone and entered Mr Grumpy territory. I cringed as I typed that analogy. Ugh.

New Kasia is angry—and a little unstable. She has a bad temper and poor impulse control, which occasionally leads to dangerous and life-threatening behaviour.

Ah, much better. I could talk about New Kasia for hours.

What I haven’t been able to do, however, is write as New Kasia. I tried switching to third person limited, to no avail. Next I tried writing a synopsis in first person to get a feel for her voice. While it produced some good material, she sounded far too angsty.

In the end I caved and randomly generated a scene from some site I can no-longer recall. I wanted something unrelated to the story so as to avoid growing attached.

Massive failure.

In an unexpected twist, the scene flowed without effort. I enjoyed writing it so much that I want to include it in the novel (dun duuun). As for her voice, I think I found it. I still haven’t used it in a planned scene, though, so I don’t want to count my chickens just yet. Fingers crossed.

What about you? Are you having trouble with your character’s voice, or do you have a method of finding it?

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