The reason Ward’s advice to “write out loud” resonated so much with me is that after a year of studying writing I’m looking around wondering where the hell my voice went.
I’ve been studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT, and it is a mind-blowingly good course. My novel teacher is Sonia Orchard, and she knows her stuff. Her critiques are to the point and always pertinent.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have become a much better writer this year. I’ve learnt about the drama underlying a scene and the 80% of the story underlying the novel. I’ve learnt about detail and showing and about what can be ruthlessly edited out.
But it’s taken me the whole year to realise that all those things are important…to a second draft.
I was trying to re-write the first chapter of my novel, and I wasn’t feeling it. Then half-way through it dawned on me: I was writing a really good scene. And I was writing the things that agents and editors “look for” (they don’t, really – what they look for is passionate writing, whatever that looks like).
I wasn’t writing what I love. What makes me fizzle and spark inside and want to know more.
I had Sonia in my head saying Melodramatic! What does this mean? Would they really say that back then?
We all know that a first draft should be uninhibited. But I think Ward’s advice goes beyond that. She’s not just saying be uninhibited, she’s saying be so honest you find parts of your brain you never even knew you had.
Craft is important. Voice and passion are vital.