Do you ever read a book and think, "Oh, hell no."
It's like the voice is just so contrived? So... *searches for a compelling word to get across point*... stupid?
Okay, I'm kidding (kinda.)
It's just, I've been reading a ton of books lately as I wait to hear back from my agent about my revision, etc. And voice is huge for me. I can read a couple pages and instantly know whether I'm going to invest a week in the book. Of course, this gets my wife (and others, at times...) yelling stuff like, Snob! Just read it! This is so weird because I'm used to people yelling out, Bryan, Bryan, we adore thee. Come and let me give you $500! (or whatever.)
Voice is important.
But here's the question: is it possible to write an authentic male voice if you are a female? What about a male writing a female?
Two books I've read recently fell into the female writing as a male category. The first one I finished (begrudgingly... I bought it and felt obligated.) The second I read the first chapter and returned to the library.
When my wife asked WHY I was returning it, I showed her a bit of dialogue and made my grand point.
No Dude would ever say THIS! I pointed to the offending piece of dialogue, tapping the paper with my hand in case she didn't understand the horror of it all.
She was all, "I've heard a guy say that."
And of course I said, "No way."
And then she said, "YOU say that!"
And then we got divorced.
Okay, not really. But we did have to have a little Come to Jesus meeting in the Bliss household, which means that she walked away and I just assumed I was right.
You are probably thinking: That Bryan... he's soooo Awesome.
Or maybe: What WAS that bit of dialogue?
Without going into details (read: not being sued), I'll give you a little example of what I'm talking about.*
I walked into the living room. My sister was sitting on the floor getting thumb prints all over my new iPod.
"Girl, you best be getting your cheap 2-dollar nail job off my new iPod," I said, snapping my fingers two times in a circle. "And fix your hair."
Okay, so that's a bit overt. And I don't know if there is such a thing as a $2 nail job (or if it is cheap...)
But maybe you get the idea?
When I write dialogue, I always try to ask my wife whether I'm being too cute, whether my cleverness is superceding the voice in my book.
What do you do?
(As a short aside, I've always wanted to write a book with another writer similar to NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. Except, I'd love to write the dialogue bits in the individual writer's voice instead of alternating chapters. Interesting?)
*This is not from an actual book.