Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Those Extra Syllables

So, late last night, some folks on Twitter may have seen a slight... we'll call it a writer's crisis. I couldn't figure out how to bring out the voice in Mutants, and it was killing me. I'd fixed the major plotpoints that I'd previously had issues with and which had come up with a few agents when I'd been querying. I'd added a rather beautifully violent scene that I just want to hug. But the voice was flat.


Really flat.

Pancake flat.

I was discussing this on Twitter and toying with the idea of switching the viewpoint to third from first, but one of my Twitter friends suggested perhaps I needed to go deeper rather than push myself away through third person.

A little after midnight, I was going through the first chapter while listening to a youtube discussion on the southern accent when it hit me... syllables... I needed to steal syllables from Hallie and make a ton of her dialogue into contractions, something that is common in the South. (There is no "I would have" but it's "I would've.") Then, I needed to add syllables to Lucas's inner dialogue because he wasn't raised there, and he'd self-educated through textbooks. Not only will he say "I would have" but he'd add in adverbs like "logically" or "optimally."

So, this section of the manuscript:

I brushed by my mother. Her perfume wound around me like a snake. It wasn’t subtle. She wasn’t subtle. No boy wants to know that his mother uses her body to get what she wants, but there wasn’t room for doubt on that.


I brushed by my mother. Her perfume wound around me like a snake. It wasn’t understated. It was cloying and obvious. She smelled lethal and menacing to me. Perhaps that was why I was drawn to Hallie’s simple scent of strawberries. There were no musky sensual undertones which spoke to me of the reality: my mother lured men to their deaths with the perfume. No boy wants to know his mother uses her body to get what she wants, but there wasn’t room for doubt on that. That, of course, wasn’t the only reason I liked Hallie’s scent but, from a clinically objective viewpoint, I couldn’t refute it might be a part.

It's still rough, but it's changed quite a bit. I'm toying with it anyway, and I think I know where I'm going. It's all about the syllables. Lucas will get more and Hallie is losing hers. BAWAHAHAHA! This might end up adding to the length of the manuscript, some of which I just worked hard to delete, but I'll work that out on my next revision possibly or maybe Mutants will end up being 90K instead of 75K like I want.

Anyway, that's my Wednesday writing plan. Today, I'm going to be very busy, so I won't get as much writing time as I'd like. Le sigh. Maybe I'll manage it tonight. I'm feeling the drive to fix this, the rush of the step beyond creation. Sometimes, manipulation of something you've created is just as satisfying as the original success. This feels this way.


  1. It can be so hard switching from one character's POV to another's. So impressive that you thought of the syllables and word choice--I would imagine that it will make the characters distinct from each other. And I know you said the new version is rough, but I like it! It's got a lot of umph to it now :)

  2. Lindsey-- Oh, thank you! I finished revision on the first chapter and I'm really happy with the voice in it now... and then I started the second chapter with Hallie's voice and stumbled. I'm going to try again after the kids are in bed. The voices are getting drowned out by my kids currently. Le sigh. Thanks for commenting. *hugs* I've been having a rough day, so it meant a lot.

  3. This was really interesting to think about how seemingly small changes to the way a character thinks or talks impacts the mood and deepens the reader's connection. We often don't think about how important such things are in creating the characters and plot we envision in our heads. Glad to know you hit upon a great perspective!