Almost a year ago, I wrote a post on my family blog titled, What makes me special? Ever since then, a minimum of one or two people every week end up on my blog by googling "What makes me special". I've been thinking about that, wondering why people would google that. What is our obsession with being special? Especially in our society where conformity seems to be at an all time high! I haven't figured out the answer, but I know the need to be special is there for all of us, especially when it comes to writing. Writing something new in this day and age where everything has been done before, is a tall order. The pressure can be intense and alot of times, we don't know what makes us special as a writer. This is something I've been struggling with in my writing.
I am taking an online Literature through my local community college as I strive to finish my Associates in Arts degree, finally! This literature class has been really helpful to me in my writing so far. I was reading one of the assignments in my textbook "Backpack Literature" by Kennedy & Gioia. The first thing that stood out at me said, "Whatever leads us to infer the author's attitude is commonly called tone." Hmmmm. That made me think, what does my tone convey in my story? The answer was: not my attitude towards my story. Which means something was wrong. The next thing that spoke to me was, "Style refers to the individual traits or characteristics of a piece of writing: to a writer's particular ways of managing words that we come to recognize as habitual or customary." BINGO!! Our style is what makes us special as writers. Most of you probably already figured this all out, but I'm a slow learner. I thought I could just write and the tone and style would just fall into place. And, well, it kind of did, but it wasn't the tone that I wanted and I'm not sure the style was really me either. So with a deep resigned sigh, I am going to rewrite the WHOLE story AGAIN! Word for word! This will be my third time doing a complete rewrite, not just editing, etc. But it must be done.
So here is a progression of my story. This is the first paragraph of Chapter One of my very first draft:
“Mikayla, are you ready?” She heard her mother yell to her up the stairs.
“Almost.” She shouted back as she applied the finishing touches to her costume. She smiled as she looked at the mirror to find a perfect maiden from the Renaissance era smiling back at her. Well, maybe not perfect, she thought again as she knew her less than average looks couldn’t be changed. But she looked past that for once as she twirled around to appreciate her dress that her grandmother had made for her. The dress had an empire waist, which help to enhance the barely more than nonexistent bust she had. At the age of fourteen, she was on the scrawny side, with not much more body than a boy. Strike that, even the boys her age seemed to be filling out better than her, she thought sardonically. But with this dress on, she could almost forget that.
Here's my first paragraph of Chapt. 1 of Second draft:
Mikayla always thought the tall fence around the wooden buildings were out of place in the desert landscape. She gazed at the Superstition Mountains that reared up nearby. They haven’t changed in the eight years she’d been coming. She knew that, yet they seemed different to her this time. They had always looked majestic to, now they just stood as a reminder of one more thing her grandmother would never see again.
Here's my new paragraph of Chapt. 1 of take Three:
The wind blew dust off the top of the Superstition Mountains down into the booming housing community of Apachie Junction. It was more like a suburb of Mesa where most of the inhabitants commuted for work. The other side of the mountains remained desert, seemingly untouched by time. Except for one thing.
Just off the highway, a dirt road led to a sea of cars, the Arizona sun glaring off the tops. The vehicles were parked in perfect formation in the makeshift parking lot that surrounded the misfit village, transporting it's occupants to another time and another place.
Ok, so your task today is to find at least one sentence in your WIP that you need to fix in some way. It doesn't have to be tone and style that you fix, but find a spot that just doesn't feel right to you and play around with some different versions. Post the sentence before you fixed it, then after. Let's see the change. Thanks! Nikki