Monday, April 23, 2012
Hemmingway, Da Rules, and How I found my Voice
Before he got published/famous, Hemingway left all his manuscripts on a train. Lost. No computer firewall to save them or backup flashdrives...just gone.
A writer friend told him to rewrite everything he could remember as quickly as possible.
And the rest, as Hemingway would say (as sparsely as possible), is literary history.
Hemingway's story reminded me of the unconventional way I feel like I found my voice:
So, when I started editing my first novel, I knew a lot of cutting and slashing would need to come first. For this I turned to Write Tight and The First Five Pages.
Because of The First Five Pages, and my growing hunger to get published, I went through a phase where I thought if I could just follow ALL the rules ALL the time I could create an unrejectable manuscript (Ha!).
Repetitions, to-be verbs, and adverbs became my mortal enemies, description got cut and scattered to create more white space, and I even avoided alliteration. Alliteration. Really.
I fought a war on the page, preserving creativity within the bounds of "da rules."
Untold pages/hours of revising/editing later...and with the help of my critique partner...I finally got a clue, but my writing was forever changed.
The incomplete sentence had become my friend. Flow came easier. And, most important, I sounded more like a teen than an adult with an English degree.
And that's how an overzealous preoccupation with "da rules" helped me find my teen writing voice.
What about you? Has anything helped/hindered your voice along the way?