Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SRS Wednesday Whip Tip: Jill S. Alexander

I'm a boot stompin' kind of excited to introduce you to my friend and debut novelist, Jill S. Alexander. But before I do, don't miss Justina Chen Headley's Whip Tip over at Holly's today.

I'm thrilled to welcome Jill Alexander, a debut novelist breaking onto the scene in big ways with her novel THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY. SWEETHEART was chosen to be part of BEA's first-ever YA Buzz Forum and was presented by Jill's editor, the fabulous Liz Szabla. How cool is that? Just take a read of the highlights of her BEA experience.

Jill sent along this tip for all of us in Smackdown Land (in complete Jill style!):

Back in the eighties, I landed in the mosh pit at a Bon Jovi concert in Dallas. I remember it like it was yesterday: the musty smell of sweat, the panties (not mine) flying, the jumping and shoving and warm beer chugging. Every time I hear the guitar intro to “Living On A Prayer,” I’m back in the pit – holding to the vibe and Jon Bon Jovi’s voice.

One of the things I hope to accomplish as a writer is to hold a reader in the story mosh, my words, and even when he or she has long since put the book down, a sound or a smell or glimpse can take them back to that story, that place, that character. So it is through this filter that I revise. Crappy dialogue, weak plot points, dry descriptions generally occur when I’ve written too far removed from the vibe or the voice. Improving any area of a manuscript requires my reconnecting with those two elements.

The Vibe: This is the mood, baby. My tattered
HANDBOOK TO LITERATURE defines mood as “the emotional attitude that an author takes toward the subject or theme.”

The Voice: For me, this is the phrasing and word choice of the narrator as well as his or her outlook on the world.

Here are a couple of revision tips on reconnecting with the vibe and the voice.

1. Create a playlist. SWEETHEART has a playlist and so does my current WIP – lots of Texas country like Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Dixie Chicks, even Lyle Lovett. Music takes me back to my story quicker than anything. My best writing occurs after I’ve dropped my son off at school, and I’ve driven home with the novel’s playlist on blast! (I noticed on Holly’s Blog that Stacey Goldblatt uses music too.)
2. Read the work aloud. This is a great way to catch those words, phrases, and paragraphs that just don’t jive with the vibe and the voice. If possible, read to a critique partner or group. Nothing shines a spotlight on the author's voice intruding on the story like reading aloud to a group.

Best of revision to everyone!
Love it! Thank you, Jill!
And tomorrow, you'll find Carrie Jone's with Holly and Paula Yoo right here! WooHoo!

1 comment:

dirtywhitecandy said...

Thank you, Jill! Love the idea of immersing yourself in the 'mosh' of the story, terrific metaphor. I also have soundtracks for my novels and it's something I build early on in the writing process and use constantly throughout. Reading aloud is also interesting - although I've often found this has a downside too, as what sounds right for the ear may not look at all digestible on the page. Best of luck with the novel!