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Your Novel’s Missing Ingredient? It Could Be You

I know BB King when I hear him. I may not have heard the song before, but a few bittersweet notes from his Gibson guitar is all it takes to make a positive identification. His sound is unique, an expression of his singular personality. Like a song, a novel is many things. It’s a collection of characters and storylines, dialog and descriptions. But a book is also an expression of the author. When I write a book, I want people to know I wrote it. I want my finished product to be an extension of my personality. Something nobody else could’ve written. BB King sounds like BB King. And I want to sound like me. GIVEAWAY: Warren is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within two weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Flute71 won.)

I know BB King when I hear him. I may not have heard the song before, but a few bittersweet notes from his Gibson guitar is all it takes to make a positive identification. His sound is unique, an expression of his singular personality. Like a song, a novel is many things. It’s a collection of characters and storylines, dialog and descriptions. But it’s also an expression of the author. When I write a book, I want people to know I wrote it. I want my finished product to be an extension of my personality. Something nobody else could’ve written. BB King sounds like BB King. And I want to sound like me.

GIVEAWAY: Warren is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within two weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Flute71 won.)

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Guest column by Warren Hammond, author of the gritty, futuristic
KOP series. The next KOP title (KOP KILLER) comes out in June 2012.
By taking the best of classic crime noir and reinventing
it on a destitute colony world, Warren writes to create dark tales of
murder, corruption and redemption. warrenhammond.net.

Make no mistake, a novel is firstly about your characters. It’s their story. Your characters need to stay true to their own motivations and personalities. But you’re the one telling their story. You’re the one who needs to connect with your readers so you can bring them back again and again, book after book. Drizzle your pages with your sense of humor. Indulge your own interests and passions, not too much, but enough to allow your personality to shine through your words.

(What are the BEST writers' conferences to attend?)

Develop your style. Your voice. The book industry is a competitive field. So many voices compete for the attention of agents and editors that they sound like a droning cacophony. You want your voice to stand out like a gem amongst the uncut stones. It doesn’t have to be the perfect diamond. Rough edges will be forgiven as long as the voice is compelling.

Look at your favorite authors, and I’m sure you’ll find a strong narrative voice in their books. They speak through their dialog. They speak through their descriptions. They speak whenever they choose their protagonist’s next challenge. Read a great book, and you’ll find the author’s fingerprints on every page.

So how do you develop a voice? Start with writing what you love. Your voice won’t show through if you’re not in love with your characters and your story. I’m not a believer in writing for the market. Where’s the passion in chasing the hot genre of the day?

(Learn why "Keep Moving Forward" may be the best advice for writers everywhere.)

Write what you love, and you’ll naturally see bits of yourself spilling onto the page. Share your efforts with other writers who will give you an honest opinion. Hone your craft. Write a good book.

Write your book!

GIVEAWAY: Warren is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within two weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Flute71 won.)

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Agent Donald Maass, who is also an author
himself, is one of the top instructors nationwide
on crafting quality fiction. His recent guide,
The Fire in Fiction, shows how to compose
a novel that will get agents/editors to keep reading.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

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