Numero two-ish: Jennifer Rees is cute as a button . . . isn't she?
Numero Three-o: She also has an AWESOME pair of boots! The girl has it ALL! Brains. Style. Cutie-pie-ness . . . is there anything more?
Editors and agents stress the importance of "voice" in a manuscript. Writers strive to find their "voice" and yet there are no easy definitions for this monster they call VOICE. I love listening to different professionals in the industry share their thoughts on what "Voice" is. After years of listening and digesting this info, I think I'm finally starting to catch on. No. I don't have a clear and easy definition. However, I will share the basic 10 points that Ms. Rees mentioned as being the elements that influence your voice.
2) Manner of Expression
In attempt to digest the things Ms. Rees said about each of the 10 elements, I came home and tried to find a small section of a book that I thought embodied all 10 elements. It's not that easy to do. There are some books that are easy to hear voice. Books like Savvy and Dovey Coe. I wanted to find a section that wasn't quite as colloquial. One where the voice doesn't come from accent or regional flare. Finally, I settled on The Hunger Games. I thought it fitting since Ms. Rees was the editor for this book. Here's a short scene that I love and see as including all of the above influences.
This is a scene from Chapter 5 when Katnis first meets with her prep team for her makeover.
Venia and Octavia, a plump woman whose entire body has been dyed a pale shade of pea green, rub me down with a lotion that stings but then soothes my raw skin. Then they pull me from the table, removing the thin robe I've been allowed to wear off and on. I stand there, completely naked, as the three circle me, wielding tweezers to remove any last bits of hair. I know I should be embarrassed, but they're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet.
The three step back and admire their work. "Excellent! You almost look like a human being now!" Says
Flavius and they all laugh.
I force my lips up into a smile to show how grateful I am. "Thank you," I say sweetly. "We don't have much cause to look nice in District Twelve."
This wins them over completely. "Of course, you don't you poor darling!" Says Octavia clasping her hands together in distress for me.
"But don't worry," says Venia. "By the time Cinna is through with you, you're going to be absolutely gorgeous!"
"We promise! You know, now that we've gotten ride of all the hair and filthy, you're not horrible at all!" Says Flavius encouragingly. "Let's call Cinna!"
They dart out of the room. It's hard to hate my prep team. They're such total idiots, Ad yet, in an odd way I know that they're sincerely trying to help me.
So, How does this one section envelope all 10 elements?
First I see how the Characters, their perspectives of each other, the manner in which they speak, their actions, the setting the tone they use w/ one another . . . it all blends together making this scene vivid in my minds eye. The tension. The contrast of how each side sees the other as barely being human at all. We are in the narrators head, so we know what she is thinking, however, we don't have to be in the Prep teams thoughts to get an idea of how they think and feel. Their actions and dialogue are clear. Though we see human flaws in each of the characters we also see glimpses of good intentions.
Second, the genre and Suzanne Collins unique story line and her story telling skills all add to the flavor of the voice.
So, make a mental note: editors don't see voice as simply being an accent. That may be only one part of your voice, if it fits the story.
INSIDER INFO ALERT!!!!: Ms. Rees shared a little info about the earlier MS of The Hunger Games. She said that at first the story was written in past tense. However, that didn't seem to work. It tended to cut down on the tension which is so crucial to the story line. So, Ms. Collins rewrote the story in present tense and Voila! That goes to show . . . don't be afraid to rewrite in a different tense. You never know what will work best until you try.
If you have anything to add to share how you view the "voice" in this section, I'd love to hear it. I'd also love to hear any insights on what you think about "voice" outside of this section as well. It's a wild beast to master!