Last week, I had a wonderful time having brunch with Caroline Starr Rose, a soon-to-be-published writer who has recently relocated back to this area. We were already online friends, so it was a blessing to meet her in person and share that unique fellowship of writers.
Caroline's debut novel is a middle-grade novel in verse. I'm a former verse writer who still likes to write lyrical prose. During our very stimulating conversation, we shared our experiences with the challenge of working with lyrical language.
I can't always control words.
On some days, I achieve full fluency and I write stuff that has power.
On other days, the words are stubborn and stiff.
My lack of control makes writing scary sometimes. That's when I have to start praying, so I can give up the responsibility and rely instead on a much better writer than myself. :-)
It might be different if I wrote literary fiction, or fiction without such tight generic requirements. Then I would be free to let the words just wander where they wanted to go.
It also might be different if I wrote in a plain style. If my only concern were characterization and plot, then words wouldn't matter so much. I would simply use the words I needed to convey the story, like a dramatist. Writers who work in this vein often use lots of dialogue--more than I use in my stories.
My problem is that I want to walk the line. I want to write commercial fiction, but I want the words to sing, at least part of the time. I want the beauty of language itself to increase the emotional power of my work.
In order to do that, I need some freedom. Paradoxically, it's a sense of freedom that allows me to bring language under my control, so it will respond to what I ask it to do.
The heavy demands of plot and character arcs in my genre do not always allow me that freedom.
So here is my question for you: how do you find freedom in your writing? When you start to feel bound by the demands of your genre, how do you loosen up and allow a sense of play in your work?