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gothicangel
01-16-2011, 04:06 PM
A question for those who work in universities [especially in Lit departments] who write fiction.

I'm entering the CWA Debut Dagger and posted my synopsis. I knew something was wrong with the voice. I'm a final year undergrad, and sure enough my academic voice has bled into the synopsis. I don't have this problem when writing fiction, but writing in a synopsis I have shifted into my academic tone.

How do those of you who do academic work as the 'day job', stop this happening?

Thanks.

whimsical rabbit
01-16-2011, 04:16 PM
I'm not an academic yet, but as I'm working on my PhD thesis in the morning and try to write at night, I kind of understand what you mean.

Generally I try to leave a few hours in between. Lately my plan has been to work on the thesis during the week, and write my novel on the weekends. This schedule allows me to clear my head from whatever I've been doing previously and focus on the work in question.

And, I try to keep up with my fiction reading for a couple of hours before I go to bed. This helps keep my head from drowning in all the academic jargon that goes into it day in day out.

Hope this helps a bit.

gothicangel
01-16-2011, 05:40 PM
I'm not an academic yet, but as I'm working on my PhD thesis in the morning and try to write at night, I kind of understand what you mean.



Thanks.

You're ahead of me. I'm currently working on my undergrad dissertation. The MA applications probably aren't helping either. :)

shaldna
01-16-2011, 07:13 PM
Honestly I still struggle with it, especially if I'm working on papers at the same time. It comes out most in queries and synopsis.

gothicangel
01-16-2011, 08:13 PM
Honestly I still struggle with it, especially if I'm working on papers at the same time. It comes out most in queries and synopsis.

Thanks.

Strangely, that makes me feel much better about it. :)

Unimportant
01-16-2011, 10:46 PM
I stick to writing short stories. No synopsis --> no problem :-)

kaitie
01-16-2011, 10:52 PM
Could you try reading something to reset your mind? Or perhaps only write your synopsis after you've spent a little while writing? I'm not sure if it would help or not. I used to be the same way, though, but I've become a lot better at switching. In my case, I think it was mostly just practice, though.

Shakesbear
01-16-2011, 11:08 PM
A large scotch.

veinglory
01-16-2011, 11:20 PM
You just have to master you modes. When you don't know what mode you are tryoing to write in you will default to the one you use most often.

Chris P
01-16-2011, 11:26 PM
As a researcher, I get paid to describe things in a way that cannot be misunderstood. I can use this to my advantage in fiction for scene descriptions, action, etc. Both styles of writing use similar tools in different ways, but that takes practice. I learned how to write academically, therefore I can learn how to write fiction.

OneWriter
01-17-2011, 12:02 AM
I'm not an academic yet, but as I'm working on my PhD thesis in the morning and try to write at night, I kind of understand what you mean.


Sorry, I don't. I can't wait to get home and write something else.
I'm so sick of my dissertation, right now. Sorry, that was a rant, carry on.

gothicangel
01-17-2011, 12:47 AM
You just have to master you modes. When you don't know what mode you are tryoing to write in you will default to the one you use most often.

Thanks. The academic mode proabably is my default mode right now. Writing fiction has taken a back seat for the last three years

TheTinCat
01-17-2011, 05:33 PM
Honestly, I tend to find the opposite is true: I was writing fiction way before I ever became an academic, so I had to learn to "turn down the charm" so to speak, in my academic writing...

Now, writing academically feels to me like writing without trying very hard... it's just my most basic voice, the most necessary words without any drama or pace.

But I think it's true that it's a matter of making sure your brain knows what's on the agenda for today when you sit down to write. Making sure you're clear on what you want the reader to experience might help activate the right parts of your mind.

quicklime
01-17-2011, 11:47 PM
learn????

I have a similar issue but different in that I have a PhD in biology. Go read a single article in Journal of Biological Chemistry or Cell and you will quickly notice "science english" is almost a completely different dialect in how you say things. My guess is yours is much the same, even if the dialect is again different. You just have to learn how not to do it, just like you may need to trim your adverbs or to actually set scene instead of ignoring it completely.

IceCreamEmpress
01-17-2011, 11:56 PM
Reading your work out loud will help you identify overly academic-voice passages. I know the feeling! Similarly, when I am doing a lot of web-based short-form writing, it sometimes makes my fiction overly choppy.

jbom
01-19-2011, 01:46 PM
I'm relieved to read the responses on this thread. I've just applied for an English MA, but I've been a bit paranoid that a career in academia might not be all that compatible with genre fiction writing . . . It's just nice to know that it takes work but is certainly doable.

gothicangel
01-19-2011, 02:21 PM
I'm relieved to read the responses on this thread. I've just applied for an English MA, but I've been a bit paranoid that a career in academia might not be all that compatible with genre fiction writing . . . It's just nice to know that it takes work but is certainly doable.

Not in English, but crime writer Kathy Reichs lectures in forensics. Ian Rankin wrote his first novel when he was supposed to be writing his PhD on Muriel Spark. :D

Let me know how you get on with the application, I'm applying for an MLitt in Gothic Studies.

Victoria
01-20-2011, 09:36 AM
I have the opposite problem. When writing academic papers, I have a tough time keeping my...personality?...from showing. I take any subject, modernism, the classical hero in fantasy, homosexuality in women's fiction, anything, and turn it into a monologue. My instructors have been cool with it so far, but I'm finally taking that psych class, and I don't think it will be appreciated. I'm screwed.

erinbee
01-20-2011, 10:11 AM
It's been years since I was in school, but I still lapse into academic mode, especially when I'm feeling nervous or lacking in confidence. My solution? The "fun pass." The fun pass is the very last pass of the draft. I tighten things up, slay anything boring, shorten sentences, try to lighten up the voice and word choice.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-21-2011, 05:29 PM
I'm not an academic, and don't usually have problems keeping my "voice"--or rather, my characters' voices, because I try to keep them unique--intact. However, I do work in a law office now and I'm starting to find legal-speak creeping its way into my early queries. It's pretty revolting.