Hi everyone! I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.
I ponder this because I came face to face with the issue over the last few months while doing final revisions for Courage. As I said in another prior post, Revision and Editing are not the same things. Revision can involve making major changes to improve the story and reading experience. Those changes can encompass everything. Everything except dismantling the novel's basic core and theme. That has to remain to keep the voice intact.
At its core, Courage is about brotherly love and is a retelling of the Prodigal Son parable told from the point of view of the good brother who now fears the older brother he once loved and revered. I typed The End on this story in 2015. It was acquired by Harper Collins in 2016. Revisions began earlier this year for the 2018 release. Let me say that my editor is a wonderful woman. She’s interesting, loves books, and has near infinite patience. She also saw parts of the story she really wanted changed. I had to both listen to her, and remain true to the theme that moved me.
However, over the years, my own voice had changed. The 2016 elections played a large part in that, along with many of the issues plaguing people of color in America, including children of color. As I did the revisions, I realized there was no way that could not leech into my story. I was amazed to find how the personalities of several characters changed as I plowed through the revisions. But the innermost story of redemption remained strong.
Our writer’s voice constantly evolves. That sometimes has us looking back on our body of work done years earlier and being astounded. We evolve, change, come up with things that are different because we ourselves evolve. Remember that when dealing with critique partners, beta readers, and editors. I’ve heard of writers revising to please them until their once vibrant and lively story turns voiceless. No editor or agent I know is interested in a story without a compelling, leap off the page and suck readers in, Voice. It is Voice that makes writers. As someone said, there are only so many plots in the world. What makes a story original, what makes it yours instead of someone else’s, is how Your Voice tells Your Story.