Small “voice” crisis – third draft

Allright, it’s not all hearts and flowers. 

I’m three chapters into the third draft, (there, we’re all caught up and blogging in real time now) and I have two jobs I’ve set out for myself this time around:

1) to strengthen my main character’s metamorphosis as a result of the plot – it’s there, I just need to buff it up a bit.

2) to uncomplicate the language a bit to make it more appropriate reading for the 9-12 set.

But I’ve just realized something about the way I write. (Perhaps it’s patently obvious to everyone, but it was a new one to me.) Apparently my tone and my vocabulary are pretty tightly interwoven. It’s killing me a little bit to take out many of my fine words.

I’ve been reading as much middle grade fiction as I have time for – between a full time job and spending nights writing THE SEEDKEEPER – and I’ve so far churned through the lovely CITY OF EMBER (Jeanne DuPrau), the terrific and Canadian AIRBORN (Kenneth Oppel), and the wicked romp ARTEMIS FOWL (Eoin Colfer). I’m working on HOLES (Louis Sachar) and soon I AM THE MESSENGER (Markus Zusak). Anyhow, all that being said, I didn’t for a second find the language used in those books to be immature. I’ve also read that teachers want middle grade fiction to have some material the kids need to look up. So I should chill, right?

But now my cursed Word Flesch-Kincaid results are haunting me. I’m trying to shorten sentences and remove the all the five syllable words and such, but it’s not making much of a difference to the results. Okay, it’s making a little bit of difference – I got my prologue down from a grade 11 to a grade 6 reading level – but still!

Anyhow – ARG. That’s how I’m feeling. My gut is telling me that I do need to do this, Flesch-Kincaid or no Flesch-Kincaid. But where do I stop? How do I ensure my “voice” remains intact?

The scary/fabulous news as that a friend has volunteered her brilliantly smart 9 year old to be part of my first critique group. That will be the real test.

This is me – a little bit frightened.


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