I have two live projects at the moment: ghostwriting a book on teamwork in modern businesses, and doing the development edits for my third novel, to be published by Unbound in late 2019 (I would give the title a plug, but that’s currently under discussion …).
They appear to be very different projects, but one issue is common to both: finding the right voice. On the ghostwriting side, the style obviously has to be my client’s, not mine; an early chapter draft was not quite there – which is to be expected. To this end, we make sure we chat generally, for example over lunch, to help accustom me to the right tone and personality; writing a nonfiction book is so much more than just imparting information. In the world of business literature, some people like a formal, academic tone; others like to be very chatty and inviting in style, while others go for somewhere in between.
On the novel, I have the challenge that there are two lead characters and, this being a heterosexual love story, one of them is the opposite gender to me.
I’ve never been a 32-year-old woman, so the consistency of Karen’s voice has slipped here and there. My development editor has colour coding for this, and a few sections are highlighted – though by no means all of Karen’s speeches, which is reassuring. As an author, you’re supposed to walk in the shoes of your lead characters. It’s difficult for me to walk in Karen’s shoes, because I’ll never be size 4, and my toes hurt just thinking about it. Also, how is it even possible to walk in heels? Some things I will never be able to understand.
I’m just delighted to have a development editor at my publisher Unbound who’s a) female and b) absolutely brilliant. I also must thank my fellow UG member Shannon Kyle, who helped with some early drafts.
I like Karen. I think she comes to life. The editor loves the way in which she constructs an elaborate back story to her imaginary love rival. So finding someone else’s voice, and telling someone else’s fictional story, is an issue for my character, too.
- You can find out more about Philip’s writing at his website www.pjwhiteley.com.