I say "experimenting" for a few reasons. I'm in that stage of development where I end up freewriting a lot of scenes that may never see the light of day; this helps me see how characters react to each other and to various situations. I often end up writing out scenes that happen before the action in the story, to sort of see how they unfold. This is pure experimentation; some of it works beautifully, and some of it should never, ever be read. By anyone. Ever.
I'm also experimenting, quite literally, with the tone - the voice - of these scenes. I'm finding myself writing some elevated, formal, and stylized language that I never normally use, and as a result it's a bit of a struggle to make it sound natural. See, I spend a lot of time thinking about the rhythm of the writing; how it flows, how it sounds out loud, whether it feels smooth or awkward. Yes, I read it out loud sometimes. Whatever - Jeanette Winterson said I should.
And yes, of course, I'm totally freaking out about this. Does this sound super pompous? Are people going to think I'm crazy? Is this the most unreadable, ridiculous pile of junk EVER written or what?
But the freaking out - that's normal. It's this new voice that isn't.
In all honesty, neurotic fears aside, it's kind of fun to try out a new style of writing. Ideally, I'd write each section of this book - each time period - in a different voice. The story in Ancient Greece should sound different than the story in modern London, or on a farm in Australia in the 1960s. If it doesn't, I'm not doing my job (this is another reason why I think I must be crazy to write a novel about souls moving through six different lifetimes. Seriously.)
So, I experiment. And because it's really fun to do something incredibly dumb, and expose myself to ridicule, I thought I'd post some of it here! It's totally brand new, unfinished and unedited, and absolutely NOT READY for public consumption, so naturally, I'm making it public. This is from a scene that may never appear in the book. It's an explanation of what drove Apollo to swear off all love affairs; I used the myth of Apollo and Hyacinthus as the straw that broke the god's back:
You can see from this small snippet that dialogue is an issue. It's one thing to make the prose stylized; it's another to make the characters talk that way, too. I'm still figuring that out. Along with everything else, of course.It was Hyacinthus, in the end, who broke apart the last whole pieces of Apollo’s heart. Dark of skin and hair, wide-eyed and glowing with adoration, the young prince drove Apollo to distraction from the day the god first spotted him, running the edge of Sparta’s rivers with the swift wind at his back. Apollo descended from Olympus so quickly that he stumbled more than once as he ran, leaping and tumbling over the mountain’s forbidding cliffs with eyes fixed always on his goal. When he reached his target, and the youth stuttered his name, blushing and already weak with love, Apollo swept Hyacinthus into his arms and swore to never let go. From that day on, forgotten were the god’s lyre and his music; his bow lay neglected in dust and shadow; all his time was spent laughing over the hills with Hyacinthus. Together they hunted birds and netted fish, “like two silly mortals,” as Artemis scoffed; or played at sport, be it racing or discus or wrestling, their skin oiled and gleaming; or else wrote their passion, bodies entwined, across the sweet caressing grasses.As the days passed, and Apollo’s duties fell further and further from his mind, Artemis’s disdain swelled into open fury. “No good ever comes of these ridiculous affairs,” she spat, her face dark and her tone grim. “Something terrible will happen again, and it will be your fault when it does.” But Apollo, love-soaked, just laughed away the hard edge in her eyes, soothing her contempt with promises to spend many months hunting with her again, soon; tomorrow; or next week; or perhaps in a few moons…
Thanks for indulging my experiment. What about you? Do you experiment with writing, or something else in your work?