Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brief Thoughts on Influence and/or Voice

The biggest influences on the narrative voice in Cocke & Bull are Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway and the King James Bible. There's some similarity--I'm told--to Cormac McCarthy but I've only read The Road so I can't really say. I also read a ton of Colonial American writing while doing the research for the book. That Ben Franklin could go on a bit. The thing is, the prose of Cocke & Bull has a certain thickness to it, a heavy texture that keeps rolling forward but isn't exactly all light and ease and grace. It's more like a thunderstorm than a spring breeze. Which is pretty much what I was going for, so well done me. It's far away from the first-person mock Elizabethan English voice of Killing Hamlet, which was a great relief because I'd grown sick of first-person after writing it year after year. Third person omniscient is the cat's meow.

But the voice of this current novel is, as I say, thick. Heavy, massive but not--I hope--ponderous. I worry it will flatten out the characters beneath its weight though it doesn't seem to. You know what? Here's the real thing: I'm writing this post to say that it's taking me longer to do this particular round of revisions than I thought it would, and I put that down to the baroque narrative voice I've found. It was not a mistake to use this voice--I love this voice and it makes my favorite groovy passages possible--but because I'm using long, complex sentences it's just taking forever to go over the MS the way I'd like. My next book will be both longer and lighter-of-foot. See if it isn't.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you. I've been writing in Regency English for the last several months and damn, if I don't start speaking to my daughter like I think I'm Jane Austen. It vexes me so.

    Although 'thus' has become my favorite word.

    I hope that all the extra work and research I've put into it helps me snag the elusive agent this go round.

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