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Gringa
12-21-2014, 10:55 PM
I'm going in circles with two opposing voices. My MS opens with a literary voice, then after a few chapters, switches to a commercial voice.

Any tips?
Other than pick one.
Other than a Beta.
Other than "what does the story need?"
Other than entertain us.

I already know it's an issue and it's driving me nutz.

Any help would be most appreciated.

Thanks ~

lbender
12-21-2014, 11:09 PM
Write both. When you feel the switch coming, move to a separate file. You may end up eventually with 2 separate manuscripts, each of which has holes where you switched to the other.

At that point, either pick one and finish in that voice, or finish each, each in its own voice. Then you get to decide which you like better. It's definitely more work, though.

One other option, if it works for your manuscript, would be to have 2 different 'narrators', or voices, for your work. Each tells a different part of the story. This would be difficult to make work, but might be a possibility.

Sage
12-21-2014, 11:21 PM
Which one do you like best? Which one is the one that's flowing most naturally? Which one fits the POV character?

Filigree
12-22-2014, 12:03 AM
My vote for writing both, if you can. Also, what you may view as opposing 'literary' and 'commercial' might be closer than you think. There may be room for both in the same mms.

Siri Kirpal
12-22-2014, 03:29 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Another vote for write both voices. I suggest writing then reading the thing through and seeing how it works.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Mr Flibble
12-22-2014, 04:09 AM
cab you be more specific about what you see as the difference? Because literary v commercial is often about the plot (inner life v external events) than the voice, so I'm not even sure what you are asking

Lit: Man finds self via..well all sorts, maybe the medium of dance :D But the "plot" is the internal change

Commercial : man finds self due to external events - plane crash/virus outbreak etc. Man changes internally, but via the medium of cats gaining opposable thumbs (or whatever)


So, is your plot internal, or external? And what has that got to do with voice?

ETA: do both these voices sound like you are writing the story?

Gringa
12-22-2014, 04:57 AM
Write both. When you feel the switch coming, move to a separate file. You may end up eventually with 2 separate manuscripts, each of which has holes where you switched to the other.

At that point, either pick one and finish in that voice, or finish each, each in its own voice. Then you get to decide which you like better. It's definitely more work, though.

One other option, if it works for your manuscript, would be to have 2 different 'narrators', or voices, for your work. Each tells a different part of the story. This would be difficult to make work, but might be a possibility.

Right now I'm writing both as in going back and forth, so much so I have a desktop cluttered with chapters in both voices. So finish one. Finish the other. See what happens. Find the holes.

As far as 2 different narrators? hmmm.... I'll mull that over...

Thanks lbender~


Which one do you like best? Which one is the one that's flowing most naturally? Which one fits the POV character?

It truly depends on the day, my mood, the chapter, the scene. The "literary" voice flows better. The "commercial" voice is more of the POV of the MC. This is why I'm in a conundrum.

Thanks Sage~


My vote for writing both, if you can. Also, what you may view as opposing 'literary' and 'commercial' might be closer than you think. There may be room for both in the same mms.

I've wondered about this re: being closer than I might think. As far as both in the mms, my concern is that it might turn vanilla .... maybe, maybe not...

Thanks Filigree~


Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Another vote for write both voices. I suggest writing then reading the thing through and seeing how it works.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Another vote for 2 for one. It seems this is what I'm going to have to do and then go from there....

Thanks Siri~


cab you be more specific about what you see as the difference? Because literary v commercial is often about the plot (inner life v external events) than the voice, so I'm not even sure what you are asking

Lit: Man finds self via..well all sorts, maybe the medium of dance :D But the "plot" is the internal change

Commercial : man finds self due to external events - plane crash/virus outbreak etc. Man changes internally, but via the medium of cats gaining opposable thumbs (or whatever)


So, is your plot internal, or external? And what has that got to do with voice?

ETA: do both these voices sound like you are writing the story?

The "literary" voice goes into more details, more description, more of a tale. Not as rushed so to speak. Internal dialogue. Musings. This version starts earlier by showing "who" the MC is.

The "commercial" voice jumps right into the action. Plops the MC smack in the middle without any idea as to "who" she is. No build up of her character to engage the reader - to make the reader care. It's more direct. Less wordy. But has a lot of internal dialogue too.

And re: the plot. Both internal and external. And as far as what's it got to do with voice? Good question. Voice as in "style" of writing I suppose.

And as far as whether I'm writing the story? Probably the "commercial" voice as it's more similar to my real life voice. But sometimes I feel it gets too pedestrian. Too street. In the gutter. Borderline trash.

Thanks Mr. FLibble~

Roxxsmom
12-22-2014, 08:52 AM
Are you maybe confusing narrative distance with what you're calling your literary versus commercial voice? Many writers will start scenes or chapters with a more distant type of third person voice, one that is more the external narrator's, but once the action starts, they zoom into a voice that's more firmly that of the pov character. Maybe look it over and see whether there's a pattern as to when you're in one or the other voice.

Kylabelle
12-22-2014, 04:08 PM
For some reason this sounds like it has the potential to be really interesting because of the very tension that's driving you bonkers, Gringa. Good luck with it! I do agree that you are going to have to explore both of these strong streams in order to do your story justice -- since they are both so active.

Jamesaritchie
12-22-2014, 09:38 PM
There is no distention between good literary style, and good commercial style. Neither is voice, for that matter.

Literary or commercial, you have a natural voice, and you have a natural style. You have a way you like writing a story, and you a way you like a story to read.

Literary or commercial, a story has to capture a reader's interest early, it has to get the reader interested in a character early, and it has to be written in a way that makes the reader want to keep reading.

I think you're worrying about a false distinction between literary and commercial, and simply the way a given writer likes to tell his tales. The question is what kind of tale do you like to tell, and how do you like to tell them? What is it you like to read from other writers? The answers say how you should write your own story.

One of my favorite openings of any kind, from any writer, is this one, but is it "literary" or "commercial", as if there's a difference.

On September 15th, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and land come together, hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic. He was twelve years old and tall for his age. The sea-breeze swept back his brown hair, probably too long, from a fine, clear brow. He stood there, filled with the confused and painful emotions he had lived with for the last three months—since the time when his mother had closed their house on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and, in a flurry of furniture, checks, and real-estate agents, rented an apartment on Central Park West. From that apartment they had fled to this quiet resort on New Hampshire’s tiny seacoast. Order and regularity had disappeared from Jack’s world. His life seemed as shifting, as uncontrolled, as the heaving water before him. His mother was moving him through the world, twitching him from place to place; but what moved his mother?
His mother was running, running.
Jack turned around, looking up the empty beach first to the left, then to the right. To the left was Arcadia Funworld, an amusement park that ran all racket and roar from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It stood empty and still now, a heart between beats. The roller coaster was a scaffold against that featureless, overcast sky, the uprights and angled supports like strokes done in charcoal. Down there was his new friend, Speedy Parker, but the boy could not think about Speedy Parker now. To the right was the Alhambra Inn and Gardens, and that was where the boy’s thoughts relentlessly took him. On the day of their arrival Jack had momentarily thought he’d seen a rainbow over its dormered and gambreled roof. A sign of sorts, a promise of better things. But there had been no rainbow. A weathervane spun right-left, left-right, caught in a crosswind. He had got out of their rented car, ignoring his mother’s unspoken desire for him to do something about the luggage, and looked up. Above the spinning brass cock of the weathervane hung only a blank sky.

Gringa
12-22-2014, 10:55 PM
Are you maybe confusing narrative distance with what you're calling your literary versus commercial voice? Many writers will start scenes or chapters with a more distant type of third person voice, one that is more the external narrator's, but once the action starts, they zoom into a voice that's more firmly that of the pov character. Maybe look it over and see whether there's a pattern as to when you're in one or the other voice.

This nails it. It starts out with a narrative distance for about 2k words in, zooms into a faster pace for a bit, then back to the narrative distance for about 5k and then the POV of the MC until the end.

But the back and forth has two distinct styles which might not gel with the reader. It's almost like two different writers, or one writer at different times of development... which...I admit... kinda is....

Thanks Roxxmom~


For some reason this sounds like it has the potential to be really interesting because of the very tension that's driving you bonkers, Gringa. Good luck with it! I do agree that you are going to have to explore both of these strong streams in order to do your story justice -- since they are both so active.

Tension's in the driver's seat. And another vote for 2 versions. Thanks Kylabelle~


There is no distention between good literary style, and good commercial style. Neither is voice, for that matter.

Literary or commercial, you have a natural voice, and you have a natural style. You have a way you like writing a story, and you a way you like a story to read.

Literary or commercial, a story has to capture a reader's interest early, it has to get the reader interested in a character early, and it has to be written in a way that makes the reader want to keep reading.

I think you're worrying about a false distinction between literary and commercial, and simply the way a given writer likes to tell his tales. The question is what kind of tale do you like to tell, and how do you like to tell them? What is it you like to read from other writers? The answers say how you should write your own story.

One of my favorite openings of any kind, from any writer, is this one, but is it "literary" or "commercial", as if there's a difference.



Interesting there's no distinction between the two voices. I'll have to mull over this....

And I'll think hard and clear as to my answers re: your questions.

Thanks James~

unionrdr
12-23-2014, 01:45 AM
Well, in my case, it's more like the city boy, intelligent imaginative side of my brain arguing with the country boy, redneck side that wants to hunt, fish & blow shit up just for pissing him off! Now...try to imagine stuffing that into the guise of a Victorian science fiction writer stylistically, but a bit modern around the edges?! Not easy & a narrow line to tread to be sure. But I think it's an interesting thing to do? Easy to do it is not...

Gringa
12-23-2014, 07:19 AM
Well, in my case, it's more like the city boy, intelligent imaginative side of my brain arguing with the country boy, redneck side that wants to hunt, fish & blow shit up just for pissing him off! Now...try to imagine stuffing that into the guise of a Victorian science fiction writer stylistically, but a bit modern around the edges?! Not easy & a narrow line to tread to be sure. But I think it's an interesting thing to do? Easy to do it is not...

Are you psychic?

Jamesaritchie
12-23-2014, 01:59 PM
Well, in my case, it's more like the city boy, intelligent imaginative side of my brain arguing with the country boy, redneck side that wants to hunt, fish & blow shit up just for pissing him off! Now...try to imagine stuffing that into the guise of a Victorian science fiction writer stylistically, but a bit modern around the edges?! Not easy & a narrow line to tread to be sure. But I think it's an interesting thing to do? Easy to do it is not...

Oh, I don't think it's all that difficult. I doubt I even have a city boy side of my brain. I'm a pure redneck on both sides of my brain, and from nose to toes, but I manage.

Then again, I know for a fact that the redneck strain is where my intelligence and imagination comes form.

Kick that city boy out to the curb, and let the redneck side loose on that Victorian SF story.

unionrdr
12-23-2014, 05:51 PM
Are you psychic?
My wife & I are what is known in psychic circles as sensitives. Not something you can turn on & off. Dang Earthbounds. Maybe I should write about that? ;)

Oh, I don't think it's all that difficult. I doubt I even have a city boy side of my brain. I'm a pure redneck on both sides of my brain, and from nose to toes, but I manage.

Then again, I know for a fact that the redneck strain is where my intelligence and imagination comes form.

Kick that city boy out to the curb, and let the redneck side loose on that Victorian SF story.
Well, it seems both are fighting over who says, writes or does what. Thanx. ;) The Victorian thing is more like a writer's style...or...something...uh huh huh, huh...

Gringa
12-23-2014, 09:08 PM
Oh, I don't think it's all that difficult. I doubt I even have a city boy side of my brain. I'm a pure redneck on both sides of my brain, and from nose to toes, but I manage.

Then again, I know for a fact that the redneck strain is where my intelligence and imagination comes form.

Kick that city boy out to the curb, and let the redneck side loose on that Victorian SF story.

Like I said in post 7 above (at the bottom of the post) one of my voices is in the gutter...


My wife & I are what is known in psychic circles as sensitives. Not something you can turn on & off. Dang Earthbounds. Maybe I should write about that? ;)

Well, it seems both are fighting over who says, writes or does what. Thanx. ;) The Victorian thing is more like a writer's style...or...something...uh huh huh, huh...

Well it's evident you're psychic because I'm fighting two voices similar to yours. One chapter calls for the sophisticated city artist. The next? the underbelly of let's just say.....

Gringa
12-23-2014, 09:18 PM
Okay. I think I've narrowed this down to the real issue at hand.

One voice wants to be told in 3rd person POV. The other wants to be told in 1st person. The opening wants to be told in 3rd. Then 1st creeps in and wants to kick 3rd to the curb.

So if I start out in 3rd and stay in 3rd, the tone changes further into the story asking for 1st person.

But if I start out in 1st then the opening doesn't engage the reader as much, doesn't make the MC as likable - if this makes sense.....

In other words I might be telling 2 different stories. The 3rd person POV is more of a tale. The 1st person POV has more action, more tension.

Thanks for all the help.

Fuchsia Groan
12-29-2014, 05:59 AM
Within first person POV, you can have different degrees of distance. The narrator can be in the moment that he/she is telling us about, or looking back on it years later with more objectivity. And you can alternate between those modes without leaving past tense. (If you're in present tense, you're pretty much limited to the present moment, no retrospective musing.) Think of The Great Gatsby, for instance, in terms of mode switching.

ETA: Or Invisible Man, in which the narrator tells us about his younger and more naive years. Some sections of the story are very immediate and action driven; others are abstract and literary, much more the voice of the mature narrator than the young one. I think we accept those tonal shifts partly because we know the narration is retrospective. (And partly because the writing is amazing.)

So what I'm wondering is, could your third-person voice be converted into a reflective, retrospective first-person voice? Or does it have to stay third?

If the latter, switching off between first and third doesn't seem beyond the pale to me. But it's tricky, and should feel motivated in some way. I can't think of an example offhand.

mfoley
12-30-2014, 06:21 AM
Just go with it. After your first draft, you may find that it works as is. If not, you can always make tweaks to blend them during revision.

unionrdr
01-03-2015, 11:50 PM
Well, like when the characters in the story are talking things over at the dinner table, while eating whatever's been described. I sometimes tell bits of the story through the main character thinking about various pertinent things. Then Sometimes I speak directly to the reader briefly. Then the story or conversation continues where it left off.

Gringa
01-05-2015, 04:00 AM
Within first person POV, you can have different degrees of distance. The narrator can be in the moment that he/she is telling us about, or looking back on it years later with more objectivity. And you can alternate between those modes without leaving past tense. (If you're in present tense, you're pretty much limited to the present moment, no retrospective musing.) Think of The Great Gatsby, for instance, in terms of mode switching.

I'm in present tense...

ETA: Or Invisible Man, in which the narrator tells us about his younger and more naive years. Some sections of the story are very immediate and action driven; others are abstract and literary, much more the voice of the mature narrator than the young one. this is what's happening, I think I think we accept those tonal shifts partly because we know the narration is retrospective. (And partly because the writing is amazing.)

So what I'm wondering is, could your third-person voice be converted into a reflective, retrospective first-person voice? Or does it have to stay third?

Right now I'm doing just this. Going back to a more reflective first-person

If the latter, switching off between first and third doesn't seem beyond the pale to me. But it's tricky, and should feel motivated in some way. I can't think of an example offhand.

It's tricky allright and motivation sure is the trick and what I'm trying to do....Thanks Fuchsia Groan~


Just go with it. After your first draft, you may find that it works as is. If not, you can always make tweaks to blend them during revision.

Yea, I trying to blend to see what happens....Thanks mfoley~


Well, like when the characters in the story are talking things over at the dinner table, while eating whatever's been described. I sometimes tell bits of the story through the main character thinking about various pertinent things. Then Sometimes I speak directly to the reader briefly. Then the story or conversation continues where it left off.

Interesting. Thanks uniondr~