children's writer

The Quiet Writer

Jun 1, 2012
I’m supposed to be working on my Camp NaNo novel right now, but as always I found other shiny things on the internet to distract me, like talking to you guys.

So here goes.

Somber, slow pacing, I’ve heard it all before. It seems like no matter how epic I think a concept of mine is the finished product is always the same: a fairly quiet novel. And it’s easy, you know, to get discouraged when loud novels with high-concept plots and speedy pacing are the ones that are being ogled by everyone even yourself.

Cinderella as an assassin, time travel romance, Alice in Wonderland retellings! Sign me up as heck yeah.

Like a lot of you I entered The Writer’s Voice contest a few weeks ago and was pretty disappointed when I wasn’t chosen as one of the top 40. It’s all subjective I tried to tell myself, but deep down I knew that wasn’t the case. So like any sane writer would do I asked for help and boy did I get it. It came as a shock to me when I was told that my beloved novel seemed a lot slower than other YA novels. I’d done it again. I’d written another quiet one.

But thank God for Google. I stumbled across a very lovely post by the author of Water Balloon, Audrey Vernick, who talked about her experiences subbing a novel that was considered quiet, and how by raising the stakes a little she was able to give it that spark it needed. You can read that article here if you wish. Later I came across another magnificent post about quiet books and how to make them sparkle. You can read it here. I got to brainstorming. How could I make my quiet book a little less quiet?

I remembered reading somewhere that a sweet romance was always a plus. Perfect. I already had one, and with some tweaking and rewriting I was able to push it to the front a little. I read that adding an element of wish fulfillment, like in Anna and the French Kiss or The Princess Diaries would be a perfect way to kick you quiet book up a notch. Let’s face it, most girls would love to fall in love with a hot European guy or be a princess, even for a day.

I gave my main character hopes and desires I thought other teens would be able to relate to, like wanting to travel to London, and France, and eat Victoria sponge cake in Kensington Palace where Kate and William live. She has a major sweet tooth. I made her feelings for her childhood sweetheart more clear because what girl wouldn’t want to relive those years of being awkward and innocent, especially when you were in love for the first time.

I even ended up renaming my main character and the novel itself. At the end of the day it may still be a quiet novel, but I’m content with it.

Sorry this post was so long, but does anyone else out there write quiet novels? Curious minds would love to know.
10 comments on "The Quiet Writer"
  1. I know what you mean. All the novels I've ever written have quite a bit of action in them, mainly because I write YA paranormal/fantasy. A lot happen to my main characters, and sometimes I wonder if it is to much. But I have tried to write contemporary YA's before, many many times, but somehow I always found them lacking. I was always writing quiet novels that didn't really seem to go anywhere, and I didn't know what to do about them. I find contemporary sooo difficult to write! I will certainly be checking out those articles and see if they can inspire my own contemporary ideas. Thanks for sharing.
    Good luck with NaNo :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Laura. I actually have the opposite problem. I wish I could come up with that great fantasy idea, but I guess I just love writing about ordinary girls in real life situations too much. :D

      Good luck with your NaNo novel, too.

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  2. This was a really good post, Tracey. I think it just goes to show that no matter how aware of a problem we might be in our writing, it still doesn't mean we can fix it that easily! Sometimes we do need a little help, and I'm so glad you've been able to get advice from blogs. That's what writing blogs are for, right?

    I agree with Laura, I like to write fast-paced, high action sort of novels (you could say I'm living vicariously through my writing). I think writing something slower and quieter would be a much greater challenge for me. I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Good luck, Tracey, and I hope your novel starts to make some noise!

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Fiona. I guess we all do have our strengths and weaknesses, don't we? I'm still looking forward to the day when I'll get that awesome high-concept idea, but for now I have to say after fixing those little things in my novel I am a little more in love with it.

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  3. I tend to come up with quiet story ideas too. I write contemporary YA, and not hardcore "issue" books. I love Stephanie Perkins and other authors like her. Her books are about romance but there are other conflicts that keep the plot moving so it's still suspenseful. Thanks for sharing the links to those two posts!

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    1. No problem, Ghenet. I really love Stephanie Perkins too. Her books are really sweet.

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  4. I love a quiet novel--those are typically the ones that tug on your heart and leave a mark. I can't write big, booming fantasy or deep, melodic prose--it's just not me. And if quiet novels with a tad of spice are you, that's who you are, baby. Embrace it and trust that your best writing is a result of you honoring how you write. Long live the QUIET book!!

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    1. Quiet novel writers unite. Thank you so much for this comment, Bethany. It really made my day. :D

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  5. I like quiet novels.. ones that linger on beautiful descriptions, and summer breeze beauty. But, I like action-y novels too. Good luck.

    Love the blog!

    Andrea

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  6. I just read like 5 of your posts and was nodding along to all of them! I am right there with you - in my head, my books seem epic and high concept. On paper, they might come across quiet to some people - okay, most people! I love your ideas of adding wish fulfillment and bringing romance to the forefront. Excellent advice! Thanks for following my blog - back at ya!

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