“If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t have to sing at all.” Billie Holiday.
Have you ever heard Billie Holiday sing? Not the Diana Ross version of her voice, but a recording of the actual songstress?Click on this link to get a sample of what she really sounded like. Billie sings. Now that you’ve heard her actual voice you’ll understand why I put her quote up today. No one. Let me repeat that: No.One. Sounds like Billie Holiday. When you hear her sing you know instantly that it’s her. You can probably say that about a handful of singers. Instant recognition. The voice, the way the song is sung, the way the lyrics are expressed, all aid in helping you know the voice immediately.
How does this relate to writing? Easy. Think of your favorite author. Now think about why they are your favorite author. It’s probably because of the way they tell their stories. The language they use, the descriptors, the way they convey the emotions of the love connection. This is the author’s voice. I’ve blogged about voice before but today it’s from a different slant.
The rules of romance writing – like the rules in life – are guidelines for existence. Life rules help guide us through…well…life. The rules of writing romance are the same. You want to get your characters from point a to point b and then to a happy ending. Along the way you’re not supposed to roam through everyone’s head, allow secondary characters to become primary actors in your work, and you should never make it easy on the love interests to get together.
Now, my favorite authors of every genre break that head roaming rule, and every other “rule” out there. This is why they are my favs. I’m nosy. I’ve said that before and it’s true. I like knowing what’s going on in every character’s mind. It helps me understand the story. I write this way as well and I know – from the multiple editors that have mentioned it – that it is verbotten in a newbie author. But, this is MY writing voice. My individual style. The way I want to tell a story – much like the way Billie Holiday tell stories with her songs. The trick to doing the verbotten correctly is to make it seem like it’s not wrong. Only a handful of truly gifted authors do this well. Some day I hope to be included in that lofty group!
Be yourself. In your life and in your writing. That’s my take-away from today’s quote.