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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Blog: Trish McCallan: The Progression of Voice

Once upon a time—long, long ago—a brand-new writer put her pen to paper and scratched her first word. It was a simple word. Too simple. Way too simple. In fact, it was so simple she hated it. So she tore the page out and started over. Her next few words were better, but still weak and flaccid and unimaginative. She ripped those out too. And thus she began her struggle for the perfect word. And with those perfect words she strung together beautiful sentences. And with those beautiful sentences, she constructed a lovely verse. And verse by lovely verse, she crafted a gorgeous poem.

Her fellow poets all oohhhed and ahhhed. They described it as lush and evocative. They raved they could smell the marsh and feel the harsh pummeling of the sun. The fledgling writer basked in their praise and wrote another lush and evocative poem. And then another, until her voice became know far and wide as poetic, evocative and lush.

Several years later, our fledgling young writer grew tired of writing lush, evocative poetry. Bored, she looked around, and spied a short story critique group. Since there is nothing harder than writing poetry, she thought to herself with the arrogance of youth, I could easily write a short story. So she did. She strung together lush and evocative words and created a beautiful short story. She presented this story to her new critique group and sat back to collect their praise, ready to bask in their ooohhhs and aaahhhs. Instead, they asked her about her plot, and something about characters, and gently mentioned that traditionally something needed to happen in a story—short or otherwise.

And thus our fledgling writing learned about storyish things like plot, character, GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict), forward movement and pace. (as in she had none of the before mentioned)

Another year or two passed while our clueless writer struggled with the short story format. Eventually her wise and oh-so-frustrated mentors encouraged her to try her hand at novel writing, where her verboseness would be more welcome. They guided her toward a critique group that specialized in novels. She could hear their sighs of relief as the door closed after their last session.

In the novel writing group our heroine felt embraced in her verboseness and love of poetic imagery. Until she passed around her first chapter and talk of characterization, GMC, pace and forward movement rose up to plague her. There may possibly have been talk of no forward motion. Someone might have said something like "I was hoping a bomb would go off and kill the heroine just so something would happen" and they definitely suggested cutting the first twenty five pages. (even though they'd only received the first twenty)

Crushed, the now unfledged authoress slunk back to her computer to massacre some of her lovely words in search of that elusive beast called plot.

Fast forward a few years. Our now fully fledged authoress discovers contests and receives such praise as "lush and evocative" or "beautifully written" and such criticism as "when in the hell is something going to happen" and "can you spell boring?" all in the same contest. Crushed she returns to her computer and slaughters even more of her lovely words in pursuit of that elusive double headed beast called characterization and action.

And year by year, less and less gorgeous words make their way into her manuscripts. Until lush and evocative no longer describe her voice. Instead she's called things like dark and gritty, or mainstream, even sharp and edgy. But she pines for those magical words, the lushness of imagery, both imaginative and vivid. She craves those pretty picturesque words...and she hordes them and writes them down, only to butcher them because they no longer fit her WIPs (works in progress) in voice, style or tone.

Until eventually, those pretty words flee in the face of her desire, knowing their fate if they were to be seized—sacrificed to the ravages of progression.

Trish McCallan has been writing for as long as she can remember.

In grade school she wrote children’s stories, illustrating them with crayons and binding the sheets together with pencil-punched holes and red yarn. She used to sell these masterpieces at her lemonade stand for a nickel a book. Surprisingly, people actually bought them. Like, all of them. Every night she would have to write a new batch for her basket.

As she got older her interest changed to boys and horses. The focus of her literary masterpieces followed this shift. Her first full length novel was written in seventh grade by pencil in a notebook and featured a girl, a horse and a boy. At the end of the book the teenage heroine rode off into the sunset . . . with the horse.

These days she sticks to romantic suspense with hot alpha heroes and roller-coaster plots. Since she is a fan of all things bizarre, paranormal elements always seem to find a way into her fiction. Her current release, Forged in Fire, was the result of a Black Dagger Brotherhood reading binge, a cold, a bottle of NyQuil and a vivid dream.

BLURB: Forged in Fire
Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions until she dreams a sexy stranger is gunned down during the brutal hijacking of a commercial airliner. When events in her dream start coming true, she heads to the flight’s departure gate. To her shock, she recognizes the man she’d watched die the night before.

Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters comes from a bloodline of elite warriors with psychic abilities. When Zane and two of his platoon buddies arrive at Sea-Tac Airport, he has a vision of his teammates’ corpses. Then she arrives—a leggy blonde who sets off a different kind of alarm.

As Beth teams up with Zane, they discover the hijacking is the first step in a secret cartel’s deadly global agenda and that key personnel within the FBI are compromised. To survive the forces mobilizing against them, Beth will need to open herself to a psychic connection with the sexy SEAL who claims to be her soul mate.

"Forged In Fire is a smoking hot adventure with an irresistible alpha hero. Danger, action, suspense, and a steamy romance make a story that's impossible to put down!"
Patti O'Shea, National Bestselling Author of "Through a Crimson Veil".


jean hart stewart said...

Wow, that blurb is really great. And I loved the blog about your progress to action in your books. I've got just the opposite problem. I need to go back and layer in description!

Paris said...

I loved your blurb!Forged in Fire sounds like a wonderful story. Glad you never gave up:(

Trish said...


That's actually the funniest part. These days I cut back so much description I have to go back and layer it through again too. And I find that description slows the pace for me too much if I use more than a sentence or too.

It's hard to beleive how much my writing has changed from those early days.

Trish said...


I'm not sure giving up is ever an option for a "true" writer. We may take a break, or take some time off, but sooner or later we always get grabbed by another story.

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