Finding My Voice: Melanie Milburne
When I started writing I had no idea what an author’s voice was or whether I had one. Apparently I had as for each of my five excruciatingly painful rejections the message I kept getting was “you have a strong and distinctive author’s voice”. Great, I thought. There was actually something positive about my novice attempts at writing. Phew! But what did it mean?
I thought about my favourite authors and why I had fallen in love with their books. I began to understand it was their voice I had fallen for. The way they crafted their sentences, the mood of their writing, the tone, the humour or wry observations about life. Their values and the issues/themes they addressed in their books had a powerful effect on me, which is after all the main purpose of storytelling—to make readers feel emotion.
It took me seventeen complete manuscripts and those aforementioned five rejections (clearly I am a slow learner!) to truly find my voice. I now have those words as part of my author brand (another term I had no idea of), which are: fast-paced passion, deep emotion.
When I decided I wanted to write a novel all those years ago I just did it. I didn’t read any how-to books other than Stephen King’s On Writing. I wrote on instinct and I found my first fifteen or so books just flowed out of my fingertips. I didn’t have writer’s block. I didn’t have blank pages. I didn’t have days when I didn’t know what to write. I just wrote. Freely. Intuitively. By the seat of the pants as it’s called in the industry.
Then I started studying the craft because I was keen to understand the mechanics of writing, as I wanted to be the best writer I could be. I attended some fabulous hands-on workshops. Read some amazing books on writing.
But the downside was I suddenly had to think and to write at the same time. The brakes went on with a slam. What the hell was my inciting incident? What was the crisis scene? What was my minor/ major or absolute turning point? What was the theme? What was the controlling idea of my story? What was the character arc of my hero and heroine? Argh! My head was spinning like one of those plates on the top of a circus juggler’s wand.
I have now written sixty-four books and I still learn something about my process each and every time I sit down to write. Writing is a deeply subconscious exercise. There is no hard and fast rule about how to do it. If you love reading and are passionate about writing then you will by the process of osmosis learn the structure of story. But to save yourself some time, and a heck of a lot of wasted space on your computer hard drive, it might be an idea to read a few books on the craft along the way.
But most importantly—write, even if it’s just a few words a day about anything. There is something magical about putting fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper. Characters come to life and insist on being heard. It’s why I keep going back to my office day after day. I want to know what’s going to happen next!
I hope you enjoy my latest release The Valquez Bride where you will find fast paced passion and deep emotion, and yes, a controlling idea and the necessary turning points and character arcs!
I have a signed copy for a reader who tells me what bit of writing advice they have found most helpful. Leave your tip and email address (so we can contact you) in the comments – competition closes 31st October, 2014.
Happy reading (and writing),
The Valquez Bride
A wedding night she’ll never forget!
Untouched Theodora Marlstone always wanted the fairy-tale wedding – a white dress and an adoring groom. Instead she’s walking up the aisle toward a marriage of convenience to outrageously attractive Argentinean Alejandro Valquez! He promises raw sensuality, not devotion, but thanks to her father’s will, Teddy must say “I do”….
Alejandro never wanted a wife, but his buttoned-up bride is a delicious present just waiting to be unwrapped. Beneath the white silk lies a woman who exceeds his wildest imagination, and it’s clear that this union will burn the very paper it’s written on!
About the Author:
I grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of Sydney and as a keen horse rider, often competed in local gymkhanas and even broke in a few horses from time to time. As I was surrounded by animals, I decided at an early age to become a nurse, however I couldn’t stand the sight of blood and so opted for a career in teaching. It’s a bit ironic that I married a surgeon. I read my first Mills & Boon novel when I was 17 and that encouraged me to continue reading romance novels; the lure of the tall dark handsome hero, who in reality I fell in love with and agreed to marry on our second date! We moved to Scotland so my husband could work and study for his MD in surgery. Two lively sons later I decided teaching was the last thing I wanted to do – I knew when I was beaten!