The importance of voice, refining it, learning how to get it on the page, how dismissing something like the 3-Act Structure as formulaic is missing the point of storytelling entirely, and why (again) I'm not worried about AI.
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Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I'm here with my first cup of coffee.
Ah, nirvana today is Monday July thirty first last day of July for 2023? How sorry Christine I really don't mean that as a personal attack. Ah. You make me laugh every time. Um, sorry I'm just being aggravated because I set up my hummingbird feeder yesterday to try to keep the ants out and they are in there. Normally if you put like vaseline on the.
The cord for the hummingbird feeder and the top did they won't get in there and they got in there which contaminates the hummingbird Juice So That's annoying going have to do something about that. But not right now. I have things to do many things to do. Ah.
Probably what I have to do is move the location of the hummingbird feeder. It seems like once they find it. It's really hard to keep them from refining it for going back to it anyway, that's not why you're here who knows why you're here, but it's not for. Problem with ants and hummingbird feeders. Ah so um, yeah I had a had a busy weekend. Um I did get to see Barbie and I am just so happy to. Report that Barbie was awesome. Um, ah it was every bit as subversive and smart and amazing as people were saying it was as we had hoped that it would be ah.
I Never realized how awful the song push is by Matchbox Twenty but that's featured in the show but it's so much about um about the patriarchy and about when you try to carve out a place for women.
Highly recommend. It really is just amazing and there's an amazing sense of female empowerment to it too. So now I just want to go around seeing to everyone hi Barbie um, and. High barbie is if you haven't seen it and this isn't a spoiler but the you know like the whole high barbie thing is like everyone in Barbie Land all the women are barbies and there are all sorts of different kinds of barbies. But um. By saying hi Barbie. It's just kind of like this celebration of I see the beautiful woman in you and it was. It was really cool to watch a movie that was like entirely about celebrating. What's amazing about women.
So um, what was the other thing I was gonna say about it the whole high barbie thing I'll probably think of it. Ah yeah, so I did that I ran a lot of errands. I went to a great yoga class. Oh Killian's out here with me if you saw him if you're on video he went by in the background there hi kitten. Yeah so um and they yesterday we went fishing I dealt with some. A lot of business stuff. Not enough I have ah a couple of things I have to get done today besides revising the book I need to turn in something that I promised to write for the bubonicon conference at the end of August ah, and here's an ant on my laptop. You know that's one of the things about not having the rain. The ongoing drought is the ant populations really proliferate like as if having it be hot and dry isn't annoying enough. We have to have ants everywhere.
I'm fatally distracted by ants this morning aren't I um and then also because I'm teaching this master class on Friday and Portland Oregon which means I almost certainly will not have a podcast on friday.
Unless I think of having like somebody on who's at the conference but I never do that do I so we'll see um but anyway I have to go over my slides for that because they want that by the first tomorrow all uploaded.
So I'm feeling a little bit crunched probably for no good reason. It's probably like this general level of stress where I you know worry about ants in the hummingbird feeder here's the hummingbird now. Yeah I know those answers are in there? Yeah so I'm I'm a little bit rambly and unfocused this morning too. Probably thinking about all these things I need to get done I also have to do a few things. For my patreon since its last day of the month ah I'd hope to get more business things done over the weekend and I didn't and of course it's also end of the month. So I have to crunch royalties and pay bills and all of these things plus get ready to leave town. So this is like my mustud of mind. Ah.
I saw this kind of interesting quote. Um like a hot take from some person who I'm not going to I wouldn't I would say credit I'm not going to call them out. Um, but they said. That it it I'm I'm also not going to quote them directly that it's more of this concern about ai writing stories for us and it says that they thought that the rise in Ai could be directly correlated to. Formulaic book structure that publishing has been demanding. They say ah as of late it really bothers me when people say things like oh that publishing's been demanding this as of late. Clearly demonstrating that they have no historical context. Okay, because then they go on to say um from the 3 act structure to the hero's journey. There's all these are mechanical methods of writing. Um.
And they said and the tech Bros have recognized it and and they're oh that the tech bros have recognized it and our profiting is telling on the industry. So can we just can we talk about the 3 act structure. Ah I mean I know that it's a an intellectual pose to act like the 3 act structure is somehow formulaic and saying that publishing is demanding it as of late shows. Kind of this rather shocking ignorance. Maybe of the fact that the three act structure has been around as long as western storytelling has been around now I freely acknowledge that it is a very western storytelling structure. And there are other cultures ah like the asian cultures and um, you know, sort of the overall russian cultures. Probably a lot of the african storytelling styles those have different structures but the western. React structure goes back to the ancient greeks. It goes back to Plato it goes back to um you know the original you know, telling oral tales and acts and that sort of they not acts. Boy I am a little bit fuzzy this morning um plays.
But theater That's there's a reason why theater is set up into acts and even though most of them seem like they're 2 acts I mean we could really delve into this but the 3 act structure. Is not some kind of formula I guess I'm just trying to think of a better word than that that writers are forced into in some way. Ah.
I Don't know if you can hear this hummingbird but he's making all kinds of noise little roof is hummingbird. Yeah I know those answer on there. This is not 3 X structure unless Podcast. So. The thing is is it's not when we say formula people use that word so scathingly and it's not ah, it's not a bad thing. It's It's a feature not a bug so by saying. That the tech bros recognizing that there is a storytelling structure and profiting off of it is like saying and I probably should have come up with this metaphor ahead of time. It's like saying that the prefab housing industry. Recognized that there's an architectural structure and figured out a cheap way to imitate that and profit off of it. Okay,, there's a reason why most human living Dwellings look more or less the same. Ah. You know sure they're different in different cultures. They're different in different climates. But you know you kind of have your basic things that human beings need for living in right? And if you've ever done any world building then of course I've got some world building on my mind since ah.
Going to be teaching this master Class. You know when you think about world building and you even when you create like amazing places for people to live in. There are certain constraints right? If you if you will um. Maybe Constraint is the wrong word. There's a formula. There's a structure to it right? Human beings for places that we live in we like to have some walls to hold up a roof to keep the elements off of it in an attempt to control. The interior climate of the house. It's one of the reason to have a dwelling. Um,, there's usually a place for us to sleep because this is what we do. We have our dwellings so that we can have a safe and protected place to sleep very often. There is some sort of. Food preparation area if you have more communal living. There might be a central food preparation area and not within the dwellings themselves. There's going to be some kind of way to bathe ourselves because we usually perform our hygiene in private and it's ah. Easy to do that in the same places that we dwell could be that there's like a central hydring yeah depends. But you're going to have doors. You're going to have ways to go in and out of the house. So Maybe this seems overly simplistic, but.
You get what I'm saying it's you know we maybe we have windows that we want to look out because we want to check to see if it's dangerous before we open the door or because we don't like being shut in I don't like being shut in I like a lot of windows I want to be able to see out.
So anyway, when we tell stories we expect there to be a beginning a middle and an end. Okay and this is essentially what the 3 act structure is um, it's setting up the story. Setting up the stakes telling the story finishing it off. Ah it's it's really no more formulaic than that and saying that the publishing industry is somehow demanding that we wedge stories into this structure. You know it's like saying that the housing industry is forcing contractors into building houses with doors. It's it's just absurd. This is part of human culture. Ah.
And I know that this is a thing particularly with young storytellers with people who want to think that they are smarter than everyone else and that they've come up with a unique way to tell a story. Okay, so let me let you all in on a little secret. That is so not a secret. In fact, so much so that you all know this you all know this already which is that there are no news stories. Okay, there are no news stories. It's It's the same you know people say oh well, it's the same 6 plots or it's the same of seven I don't know it doesn't really matter big you know because then they can't exactly say what they are but the thing is we don't. Tell stories or listen to or read stories in order to get something. That's totally different than any kind of storytelling structure. We've ever experienced before that is not how you make your story unique. You make your story unique by telling it from your voice and voice is the thing that Ai will never be able to imitate because this comes from a human being and I don't understand why this is so difficult for people to get. Um, yeah.
Ai can imitate other voices but it's like putting together the tape recording and having it. Um you know piece together. The the ransom note Cutouts from magazines and that kind of thing and yeah, right now it's awkward and it will get smoother.
I've seen some things where they've had you know like cut out words from people's voices and have it put together into a coherent sentence that sounds quite convincing. Yeah ah artificial intelligence which is actually the wrong term it really should be like machine language. Um, from language learning Modules It's it's imitating and echoing. But it's not coming up with this. Um.
Story that you're telling from your voice and the best explanation that I've ever gotten for voice came from Jayne Anne Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips when they. Have given their talk on the secrets of the bestselling sisterhood is that your voice comes from your beliefs and yes it does take time for newer writers to refine their voice or creators voice is ah something that is. Very um, ah I would say particular to the person. Um it voices something that takes a while or I'm sorry this is why i's gonna say oh my thoughts are so scattered today. Um, voice is something that belongs to all kinds of creators right. Um, we we talk about it in writing but you can hear it in songwriters when I teach voice I use Taylor Swift as an example because Taylor Swift has a very distinctive songwriting voice that goes beyond her singing voice.
And I've been talking about her for a very long time just just so you all know longtime listeners know that that I've been a swiftie before it was cool to be a swiftie. Um, so yeah, your voice comes from your beliefs. The reason that. It takes a while to refine your voice as a creator is because one of the greatest challenges is for us to get what's up here in our heads onto the page. Let's stick with writers for the moment getting the book to say the same thing that we are hearing in our heads. Is a huge challenge and I think a lot of newbie writers don't necessarily understand that because they think because it's in their head that it's on the page I was giving critique to someone helping an author with describing her book and she had said something like um. Debtor Heroin only cared about um, being on the cheerleading squad and getting the attention of the handsome captain of the football team and and I'd given their her the feedback I you know because we talked a little bit about who her heroin was who was then. Going to be going and doing very smart and adventurous things and I said well the way that you describe this? Um, she sounds frivolous. She sounds kind of like a dance and she said well but she's not and I said that's good. That's good because you that wouldn't be a great character I said but.
The way that you've described her here makes her sound that way and she said but she's not I'm like I understand I understand but you have not translated that to the page and it's It's really, it's difficult to get this cross because you don't want to be unkind I Never want to be unkind. But at the same time Sometimes it's ah it's like I don't know how to get this through your head that because it's in your mind does not mean it's on the page and that's why you have to spend a lot of time refining voice but your voice is yours that comes from you as. As a human creator and is not something that can be counterinited the way that you tell the story and I'm not talking about whether or not you'll use Hero's journey if you like Hero's Journey Use Hero's Journey. Um, there are useful things about it. There are some shitty things about it. But there's also some really useful things in Hero's journey. Ah because it is a way of looking at people growing through attempting some kind of Quest. It's It's the kind of tale that we tell each other. If you listen to the stories that people tell each other about stuff that's happened in other people's lives. You know we love stories of the the underdog triumphing right? Why is that it's not because publishing is forcing us to love that kind of Story. So.
Um, I won't keep going on about this but um, yeah I would just love to have people stop talking about how the 3 x structure is some sort of dangerous formula. Ah, it's it's just a tool folks. It's just a tool. And don't worry about things like changing you know like oh you can't use 3 act structure because then you'll sound like an Ai is no no write your story write your truth and that will come through I will talk to you all. Next Monday most likely you all have a great week take care bye bye.