News Flash: My first-person voice sounds more like me

January 21, 2010

I’m constantly making mistakes throughout this book-writing process. I suppose that’s normal when you undertake a project for the first time and have no one to guide you through it. But it’s frustrating, especially when I think about how much time I would have saved had I done everything right the first time.

What am I talking about? Here’s an example. My latest mistake: I wrote my query letter and proposal in the third person.

Since my book is a memoir, it’s obviously written in first person. So why, WHY would I think it was a good idea to write my two supporting documents in third person?!

When this light bulb went off in my head — thanks largely to a new travel-memoir writers support group — I began to rewrite both my query and proposal in first person. And you know what I realized? It’s so much easier! One of the most important aspects of queries and proposals (in my humble opinion — and clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about) is to give the reader a sense of your literary voice, the same voice you’ve got in the book. And I was having a hell of a time (re)finding my voice in my query and proposal. Now I know why. How did I expect to show off my first person voice by writing in third person? When I write in first person, the same way I’ve written my entire manuscript, it’s far easier to sound like me.

When I write my second book, I fully expect it to take half as long, simply because I’ll know what I’m doing.

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    5 Replies to “News Flash: My first-person voice sounds more like me”

    • Karen Walker says:

      Ah, the learning curves we might swerve with, heh, Alexis. This one made me laugh. Sorry, I know it must be painful, but I am so with you.

    • jessiecarty says:

      glad you figured that one out! can you imagine sending it off and how many people probably wouldn’t even tell you you were doing it wrong?

      hopefully your next book you’ll just have to write the proposal before you even start the book which is what i hear a lot of people get to do for their second non-fiction books 🙂

      • Alexis Grant says:

        I guess I should point out here that it’s probably not technically WRONG to write it in third person (suppose it would depend on your agent). But it’s certainly better to write it in first!

    • Marianne says:

      I’m so glad that you have got something useful out of the initiative that you did such a fabulous job of setting up!

      Your first-person voice rocks!

    • I’m taking an online proposal writing class with mediabistro and I’m finding it really helpful with tightening my proposal.

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