Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Those Voices in Your Head


By Kay Chandler


Could mean you’re having a nervous breakdown . . . or it could simply mean you’re a writer. A few years ago, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in a large hotel, and one of the announcements went something like this: “Please stay on 3rd Floor. People on other floors won’t understand if they see you chatting with the characters in your book.”

No further explanation was needed. We got it. As novelists we have all these invisible people mumbling in our heads. Like a mother knows her own child’s voice, a writer sitting at the computer should easily recognize not only the tone, but the personality of each character speaking. One of the greatest compliments I received from my agent was when he wrote, “You have the voice for Historical Fiction.”

However, if I’d been writing Historical Fiction set in Australia in 1930, I would never have been awarded a contract, and he wouldn’t have penned those words. Why? Because as much as I adore the Australian accent, my characters, regardless of their station in life, would all come across sounding the same. I can do an extensive study of the variations in Australian accents but if I have to stop and think about each character’s voice before I type the dialogue, it will come across as stilted.

The key is to write what you know. I write Southern Fiction. In my Switched Series, I have an elderly attorney, a snobbish wealthy woman, her daughter Harper, servants George and Beulah, a crass, uneducated young woman, a country preacher and a medical doctor. No two sound alike. I grew up with all these characters. I write the dialogue in their words, their tone and in their vernacular as I listen to them speak.

I come from a line of prim and proper church goers and also a line of redneck moonshiners from South Alabama. My kinfolk didn’t all sound the same and neither should our characters. If they express themselves in our voice and not their own, then our writing will be dull and boring, regardless of how well we craft a story. The voices should be so distinct that the reader doesn’t even need a tagline to know who’s speaking. Getting the voice right is as important as getting the plot right.

Excuse me, I think I hear Beulah calling. 
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South Alabama native and award-winning author, Kay Chandler, is quickly becoming the new voice of Southern fiction.  After winning multiple first place awards for her novels and short stories, Kay was awarded the coveted “Best Overall Writer Award” at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference.  It was only 3 years ago this inspirational 73 year old grandmother of 23 published her first 2 novels, Lunacy and Unwed, both receiving a “Reader’s Choice Award” their inaugural year.  Kay Chandler has since published 8 more titles - all 10 works maintain 5 star reviews on Amazon.  Kay’s work has been described as dark but redemptive, familiar but unpredictable; and most of all, addictive and impossible to put down.  “The South has a history of injustices. I know them well. I was born and reared in lower Alabama. Our history is tainted with ugliness. But there's an old saying that 'nothing has ever been sliced so thin that it doesn't have two sides.' I come from a long line of good, Christian church goers--and also from a line of backwoodsy, redneck moonshiners. The haves. And the have-nots. My two grandmothers had very different views of life during the Depression years. Both have shaped my life, and the seeds passed down have helped shape my novels. My mother was a city girl who in 1935 fell in love with the son of a tenant farmer--a man who retold the same stories countless times and yet I never tired of hearing them. The seeds fell on fertile soil. They've taken root and I'm now seeing them spring forth in the lives of my characters.” –Kay Chandler
Kay Chandler’s books can be found in digital and print format wherever books are sold.  Kay is an inspirational speaker and welcomes any opportunity to share her story and her books with your church, group, or club. My website link is www.kaychandler.info. My FB account is www.facebook.com/kay.m.chandler and Twitter link is @AlabamaKay and I have an Amazon author page.


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