Book Nerd Guest Post
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Don’t worry too much about being original.
People often ask me – and every other writer, I think – where I get my ideas from, and I used to struggle with the answer because I simply didn’t know. Now I tell them that the idea isn’t what starts a book for me, it’s the character, which is true. I need someone to come alive and be a voice, someone whose ears and eyes I can borrow. Luckily, they don’t usually ask where the character comes from …
“I’ve got this idea for a book,” they say. Or they ask me if I worry about having my idea stolen. But a book isn’t one idea, it’s a thousand ideas. Every page contains at least ten, from the big important choices to the pesky little details of your characters’ everyday lives. What will he do when he is ordered to pull the trigger? What does rain feel like if you’ve never felt it before? Does she want pickles on her hotdog, or is she a ketchup-only kind of girl? Has she remembered to bring an umbrella? If his neighbor allowed her dog to defecate on his doorstep, would he complain? The answer to each one is an idea. You couldn’t possibly make a thousand choices like that and come up with the exact same answer as somebody else. Not even if you tried.
So no, I don’t worry about getting my ideas stolen. Young girl solves crime against all odds? Go ahead, you’re welcome. A coroner’s daughter in fin-de-siecle France struggles against society’s constraints and finds that her quest to solve the mystery also becomes her own liberation? Well, you would have pinched a few more details, yes, but you are still welcome. Add a pinch of werewolf to the mix? Go ahead. If you wrote it, it would be a different book.
Whatever story you are writing, just write it. Don’t try to be like somebody else, also don’t try to be unlike somebody else. Just write the damn story – and don’t worry about being original. You already are.
Madeleine Karno is an ambitious young woman eager to shatter the confines of her provincial French town. Driven and strong headed, Madeleine is set apart by her unusual occupation: assisting her father, Dr. Albert Karno, in his job as a forensic doctor.
The year is 1894, and a young girl is found dead on the snowy streets of Varbourg. Dr. Karno is called in to determine the cause of her death, but before he can examine the body, the girl's family forbids the autopsy from taking place. The only anomaly he manages to find is in the form of a mite in her nostril. Shortly after, several other dead bodies are discovered throughout the city, and Madeleine, her father, and the city commissioner must use the new science of forensic evidence to solve the mysterious cases before they all become the next victims of a deadly disease - or of a heinous murderer.