The first draft of my novel was awful—awkward and spare; an outline, not a book. The second draft was much improved, but it still felt lifeless and bland. I hadn’t discovered my voice, and didn’t even have the confidence to know what one looked like.
I had a few unread Ed McBain novels on my bookshelf, and I picked one up and started to read. Now this, I thought, is voice. It was liberating to see an author give his words a personality; to see him be playful, even daring, with each turn of phrase. McBain did more with words than I wanted to, but it nudged me in the right direction. I needed that nudge.
The first page of McBain’s Killer’s Choice is above. ”Shards of glass covered the floor like broken chords from a bop chorus.” Now, I wouldn’t choose to write that sentence because it wouldn’t really be true to me. It would sound like me trying to sound like someone. Coming from me, it would sound like parody. But no matter what you think about the sentence, it’s still a fun sentence. And two sentences into a book, you ought to be having fun.
Amazon is selling Kindle versions of McBain’s books for $.99 today. That’s a cheap price for some fun reads. You can get them here.