How to Effectively Use Props in a Demo

It’s that time of year again– Dance season!

Those of you who have followed me for a while are already familiar with my obsession over Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. It’s my favorite part of the summer and if it ever gets cancelled, I will cry like a four year old whose lost their favorite blankie. No joke. I really mean that. *serious face*

To me, it’s the epitome of everything I wish martial arts demo teams would emulate– athleticism (which, come on, has always been part of the martial arts), grace (again, always been there), theatricality (yep, now we’re getting somewhere new), storytelling (totally foreign territory for martial artists), and performance (what? What’s that?). So it’s not surprising that this week’s post was inspired by a routine from the current season of So You Think You Can Dance. We’re only one week past the auditions and already they’re providing examples of things every demo should incorporate. Which is why July was always ushered in with a resounding chorus of groans from my team– they all knew that when Dance was on, they’d have to watch out for difficult new tricks making sudden appearances in the choreography. 😉

But anyway, on to today’s topic– the effective use of props in a demo. (There’s even a visual example courtesy of SYTYCD.)

Props are one of those notorious trouble spots for demo team choreographers. Most teams will either avoid them like the plague or go to the complete opposite extreme and overload their demo with them. (A prop is anything beyond the human bodies on your team. It can be costume, weapons, set design, anything but your team itself.) I understand; it’s confusing stuff.

My first demo featured a massive dragon similar to the ones you see during the Chinese new year, except medieval style. It required 8-10 people to man the thing (the head alone took someone with a significant amount of muscle to operate) and basically upstaged everything else on the floor. Now, granted, I was 15 and just starting out, but still. I fell prey to one of the fatal errors I see teams make– I allowed the prop to be bigger than everything else, and the story/choreography suffered for it. I wasted valuable manpower, hiding those 8-10 people under a massive black tarp for the entire demo; I had people standing around doing nothing, staring at the dragon like it was an altar to the demo team gods; and I placed the storytelling emphasis on a prop, allowing it to carry the entire performance. Needless to say, we didn’t win. But it provided a valuable lesson on the purpose and utilization of props. A lesson I’m about to give you.

Props should never ever be the focus of your demo.

If you find yourself spending more storytelling time on the props and less on the choreography, you’ve crossed to the dark side of demo team hell and you may as well kiss that shiny trophy goodbye. Yes, props are visually fascinating for an audience (we’re all over-grown mockingbirds, distracted by shinies), but they’re completely ineffective storytelling devices. They’re static, inanimate objects that only take on importance when someone uses them. So to expect a lifeless lump of material to carry your entire demo is demo team suicide.

An effective prop is one that is completely integrated with the rest of the demo. It’s the supporting role to your starring actors, reinforcing your message and enhancing the story. Which brings us to our example. The following video is an inspiring piece by choreographer Christopher Scott. This dude’s my hero. Seriously. Not only is his choreography brilliant, but he’s a master storyteller, seamlessly using musicality, props and staging in an enviable display of how to make the most out of a large group of talented people. I’ve long been a fan of his League of Extraordinary Dancers, so his appearance on SYTYCD was a match made in heaven. But enough of my gushing; watch the video. You’ll see for yourself how awesome he is. 😉

Pretty cool, wasn’t it? There are so many things this video could serve as an example of, from staging, to musicality, to even storytelling. But today’s focus is props. So I want you to watch the video again and this time really pay attention to the way the sand is integrated into the dance, how it almost becomes a dancer in it’s own right. Christopher Scott not only choreographed the guys, he choreographed the sand as well! This conscious attention to the way the sand moved placed emphasis on the exact moments he wanted to highlight (staging), created a visual echo of the musical nuances (musicality), and reinforced his message of how humanity/man is tied to the earth (storytelling). That’s how you use a prop effectively.

(Travis Wall is another choreographer who brilliantly uses props. Case in point, the blindfolded dance from this past week’s show.)

Now, I’m not recommending using something as messy as sand. Most of us will never perform in venues where we have a clean-up crew following behind us, erasing all evidence of our performance in seconds. But you can still take the principles Mr. Scott used and apply them to your own demos, your own props. The important thing to remember is that every prop needs to have a reason to exist, and that reason has to somehow support the larger whole of the demo. So before including any prop, ask yourself these simple questions:

1) What does this prop enhance? Staging, Musicality or Storytelling? (If you can’t answer yes to any of those three things, you don’t need it. )

2) Does including this prop take away focus from something else in the demo? (Think my massive dragon that basically ate the rest of the performance. Choreography and Story should always be your main focus. If the prop distracts from that, it needs to go.)

3) Can I effectively convey my message without the prop? (This is the best test for whether a prop is holding you back. If it’s a crutch, your demo will fall apart the second you take it away. Ideally, you should be able to perform your demo without any costumes or props and still convey the same story to the audience. Yes, it will be a little less impressive, relying heavily on your team’s acting ability and the audience’s imagination, but they’ll still get it. Adding the props should only serve to make that message more powerful, not be a requirement for comprehending your tale.)

By taking the time to really think about how and why you’re including a given prop, you’ll subconsciously transform it into it’s own character, like Christopher Scott did with the sand. This shift in thinking will then allow you to fully integrate it into the rest of your demo in a seamless way, taking it from a distraction to a dynamic and important part of your story. And that’s the difference between having a prop simply for cool factor, and effectively using it. Any questions?

Which Comes First, Character or Plot?

This is the literary equivalent of the chicken and egg scenario. Plot needs character in order for it to resonate emotionally with readers, and character without plot is really just someone standing around doing nothing. But which comes first?

There are writers in both camps that insist one or the other is the penultimate starting point for a story. But I disagree with all of them. I don’t think there is any one way to start. I firmly believe that every writer is different and will create in a way that’s unique to them. To try and constrain that creative process to a strict set of rules is futile in my opinion. All it does is force writers who don’t naturally work that way to feel frustrated and inferior when their work fizzles and dies. Muses are fickle creatures, and prone to abandoning you when you try to force them into a rigid box. So instead of telling you that you absolutely must start with character, or plot, or even idea, I’m going to encourage you to experiment and find your own style.

But first, let’s take a look at the three different starting points, shall we? It’s hard to make an informed decision without all the facts, after all.
 

Character-Centric

 
Character-centric writers always start with a character. (You’ll see this approach a lot in fan fiction, where the only creative outlet left to the writer is character creation.) They create every last detail, from name, all the way to their relationship with their great aunt Matilda’s cat that got ran over when they were 4. These writers know their characters inside and out, to the point that you almost start to wonder if they’re creating a character for a novel or an imaginary best friend. Armed with pages and pages of character sheets, these writers have everything they need to get started– except a story.

Even though they’ve spent days, weeks or months learning every minute detail of this fictitious person, they don’t have a story yet. No one wants to read those pages and pages of character notes because they’re about as exciting as a clinical psych report to anyone but the author. You could have the coolest character in the world, but no one’s going to care unless you give him/her something to do. Which is why, oftentimes, you’ll notice character-centric authors struggle with plot. Since their focal point is the character, they simply don’t know how to create something interesting to fit them into, often resulting in a storyline that feels pointless, ambling around and around with no direction.

But, to their credit, character-centric authors school the rest of us when it comes to creating fully fleshed-out, believable characters. They just have to work a little harder in the plot department is all.
 

Plot-Centric

 
On the flip side of that coin is the plot-centric writer. These people start with a plot. They create every twist and turn, every multilayered goal and mini-quest in a road map of storytelling awesomeness. They know exactly how the story starts and ends and everything in between before they even put a word on paper. But the thing they don’t know? Their characters.

Characters are pawns to these writers, often showing up in outlines with nothing more than a placeholder name. The ins and outs of personality aren’t important unless it drives the plot. And often, that becomes a problematic downfall. Dull, cookie-cutter, two-dimensional characters are a hazard, a pot-hole too many plot-centric writers fall into. Just like the lack of plotting abilities in a character-centric story can leave readers yawning, the lack of rich characterization in a plot-centric work can destroy an otherwise amazing book.

Plot-centric writers have to pay extra attention to character development if they want any chance at resonating with readers emotionally. Plot only holds a reader’s interest so long; it’s the characters we really remember after we reach The End.
 

Idea-Centric

 
Outside of the character vs. plot debate is a third camp of writers– the idea-centric crowd. We (because this is the approach I use) are content to let the character and plot people duke it out over which element is more important because we go at it in a completely different way. The idea-centric writers don’t start with a character or a plot arc, they start with an idea, a concept. This can be a question– E. L. James has said she started with the question, “What would happen if you were attracted to somebody who was into the BDSM lifestyle, when you weren’t?” for her mega-hit 50 Shades of Grey— or a point of inspiration– Marie Lu’s Legend series started with her curiosity over how the central relationship between Jean Valjean (a famous criminal) and Javier (a prodigious detective) in Les Miserable would translate into a more modern tale– or even a deeper message– The Hunger Games is actually a statement against the voyeuristic tendencies of American Television according to author Suzanne Collins.

When done well, the idea-centric approach combines the best of the other two, creating an extremely rich experience readers tend to remember long after they finish the book. But the key there is “when done well.” Idea-centric writers have to be careful that they don’t start to sound preachy, especially those with a message to impart. Character and plot can both suffer if the focus is too heavily placed on the root idea, resulting in an even bigger trainwreck than either of the two previous approaches. So while this is the method I use, I’m definitely not saying it’s perfect.

There are many people that will try to tell you their method is best. I’m not one of them. You find characters the most appealing part of a story? Go for it! Be character-centric. Just keep a watchful eye on your plot. You think plot is the all-important end-all? Great! Plot-centric it is. Have fun guiding us through your labyrinth of action. Just make sure you don’t forget about your characters along the way. And if, like me, you find plot bunnies lurking in the weirdest of places, go with it! Some of the strongest works on the market started that way. Just make sure you rein in your high horse before you reach preachy-ville.

Regardless which of the three starting points you choose, there will be things to watch out for. Each has its strength, and each has its weakness. But knowing the pitfalls ahead of time lets you avoid them before they ruin your masterpiece. The point is, there really is no right or wrong method, no matter what random-people-on-the-internet say. If it works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, look for something else that does. That’s really all there is to it.

As for our chicken and egg conundrum, you tell me– which comes first? Character, plot or idea?

The Different Types of Critique

Every writer knows there are varying levels of quality in the critiques they’ll receive. Some will be extremely helpful, offering ideas for fixing particularly troublesome areas, or finding plot holes/inconsistencies you missed during your 142 times reading the manuscript. Others will be glowing, fluff-filled ego strokes that feel amazing, but offer virtually no help. Still others will be harsh, brutal and make you want to curl up in a hole, never to write again. And the worst part is, you can never predict which type you’re going to get. Sometimes the horrible, hate-filled ones come from the people closest to you, and the fluff-filled ego strokes come from the professionals you’d expected to tear it to pieces. So how are you supposed to deal?

The most common advice you’ll receive is to simply “grow a thicker skin.” But that’s right up there with “show, don’t tell” and “kill your darlings” in terms of prosaic, vague responses that ultimately provide no help at all. Instead, I suggest learning the various categories of critique, that way you’ll know instantly what you’re dealing with and whether or not to pay it much mind.

(Disclaimer, these are not official categories. They are completely fabricated by me, and therefore, contain the appropriate amount of tongue in cheek– lots. 😉 )

The Fan-Boy/Fan-Girl

These are the ego-flatterers. The “OMG!!!! I LOVED IT! SQUEEEEE!” type critiques we all secretly want to receive by the millions. But as much as they puff our chests with pride, they actually aren’t very helpful. Once you come down off your pedestal of hot air and strip away the loudly screamed outpouring of emotion, you realize that you’ve learned absolutely nothing of value. Except how awesome you are, and you already knew that, didn’t you?

A helpful critique, even a glowing one, should tell you why– why they loved it, what they identified with, what the strong points were. But the overwhelming, star-struck gushing of love from a Fan-boy/Fan-girl doesn’t usually contain a shred of this. You have their reaction to your work, (and probably a new stalker), but you don’t have anything you can take away and replicate in your new project. So at the end of the day, soak up the adoration, but know that these kinds of critiques are fairly worthless.

The Thinly Veiled Swap Request

Similar to a Fan-boy/Fan-girl critique, these will include a generally positive diatribe of how brilliant you are and how you’re the best author they’ve ever read ever, and oh, by the way, would you read and critique their story now too, please? Yep, the Thinly Veiled Swap Request is really just a bait and switch. A cleverly positioned “I scratched your back, now you scratch mine because you owe me.” You’ll usually see these kinds of critiques on public writing sites like Wattpad, Figment, and Authonomy, where the popularity system relies on the number of favorable reviews (or hearts) a story gets. These requests are vaguely insulting and usually best ignored. Upon close inspection, many will reveal that the person asking for a return critique hasn’t truly read your work at all. So be careful with these ones. Don’t fall for the fluff.

Your Mom (AKA Friends and Family)

No, that’s not meant to be a badly worded “Your Mom” joke.  (I can’t believe you would think that of me! 😉 )

One of the scariest groups of people to share your work with is those closest to you. I’m sure it stems from the fact that they are close to you, and we tend to trust them over strangers. But that’s a double-edged sword. How many people really believe their mom won’t wax poetic over everything they’ve created, even if it’s the worst thing on the planet? She loved your stick-figure blobs and macaroni/toilet-paper-roll art, didn’t she? Yeah, exactly. Now tell me again why you’re worried she’ll hate something you’re hoping people will pay for.

This category is its own special blend of helpful and unhelpful. Chances are good that even though you’re more terrified of showing your friends and family your work than having your wisdom teeth removed, these reviews will generally come back positive. Even if they hate it, these are the people that love you, so they’ll pull their punches. Which is also what makes this batch of reviews hard to trust. Instinctively, we do, because we value their input, but that can lead to a skewed perspective if we’re not careful.

The best approach is to bask in the positivity, but then cull the review for anything valuable. Surprisingly, this is where you’ll get your first really helpful tidbits, as these readers are comfortable enough with you to point out potential plot-holes or problems with your story. Just make sure you keep your ears open and take the criticism graciously. You do have to live with these people, after all.

The Critique Partner

Every writer should have at least one of these. Seriously! Every. Writer.

Critique Partners are an amazing blend of friendship and writing ability. Typically writers themselves, these are the people you can be your absolute strangest with. The people who won’t just smile and nod when you start talking about your characters like they’re real people, but actually join in! They understand all your writerly eccentricities because they have them too. But the best part about a critique partner is they’ll give you brutally honest, valuable feedback. Of all the critique categories, listen closest to this one. Critique Partners are a step away from the professionals, and their suggestions are usually right. They can be the difference between handing an editor the equivalent of dog-poo and a beautiful, ready-to-publish masterpiece.

The Aspiring Writer Knock-Down, Drag-Out

Alright, on to one of the less happy styles of critique. The Aspiring Writer Knock-Down, Drag-Out is a particularly nasty one. Stemming from insecurity and a fear that success is a limited resource, this critique will unfairly rip your work to shreds in an effort to beat you to the finish line. Most writers don’t fall into this category. Most of us are genuinely friendly and want to help our fellow authors succeed. But there are those out there with superiority complexes that thrive by tearing others down.

The worst part about these is that they come from people who sound knowledgeable. These insidious, evil creatures are armed with an intimate familiarity of the writing process and they’ll attack your work at its core. The key to surviving one of these critiques is to see past the intentionally hurtful language and look for something positive you can use to grow. Don’t listen to the individual words, but look at the overall viewpoint. If they’re going after your character development with a butcher knife, consider that might actually be a weak spot in your story and use that clue to improve. The best way to defeat a bully is not to give them any power, so turn their negativity into something good that helps you, or ignore them completely. (Easier said than done, I know.) Politely thank them for their feedback and then go home and stab the voo-doo doll you made in the eye.

The Editing Writer

This is another insidious type of critique that masquerades as helpful. These reviewers assume that because they’ve written some drafts of novels or some short stories that were well-received in school, they’re qualified to offer feedback as an editor. But that’s a slippery slope to go down. Not every writer is a good editor. And not every English degree equates mastery of storytelling. Writing and Editing really are two completely different skill sets. Some writers, like me, genuinely do possess both. (You’ll be able to tell by the solid feedback that can be easily verified against known writing rules.)  But it’s not as common as you would think.

Usually, these critiques will try to rewrite your work. They’ll be couched in personal preferences and will try to get your writing style to conform to theirs, citing made-up rules and questionable storytelling approaches. A good editor will preserve an author’s voice, offering suggestions that strengthen it rather than try to replace it with their own. Take these critiques with a grain of salt. Likely there will be some beneficial morsels regarding areas that need work, but find your own path. Don’t necessarily take theirs.

The Grammar Nazi

Who doesn’t love a good Grammar Nazi? These people go through your work and pick it apart punctuation by punctuation. Their review will consist entirely of technical suggestions and pretentious gloating over every mistake you made. It will feel like you’ve suddenly been sent back to your least favorite English class, with dangling participles, evil adverbs and misplaced commas haunting your every move. But as horrible as it can feel to be schooled by a Grammar Nazi, these critiques are actually helpful. They did just flag all the really technical stuff that needs fixing, after all. So as painful as it is, listen to these people. Someone has to be the Grammar Nazi, and thankfully, now it doesn’t have to be you.

The Structural Editor

Now we start to get to the really meaty types of reviews. The ones you’ll receive from the professionals if you’re lucky. And from the freelance professionals if you’ve got money. 😉

Structural editing focuses on the actual elements of storytelling, the underlying framework of your story. Critiques of this type will talk about things like character/world development, pacing, dramatic tension and suspense, to name a few. They won’t go into detail on the mechanics of writing, but will go into heavy detail about what’s working and what isn’t, and most importantly, why. This is one of the most valuable critiques you’ll receive during the pre-publication phase. Often, your book won’t go to press until the issues found by a Structural Editor are taken care of. So they’re definitely good people to pay attention to.

The Copy/Line Editor

Right up there with the Structural Editor is the Copy/Line Editor. Where the Structural Editor’s domain is everything storytelling, the Copy/Line Editor lords over all things technical. Similar to the Grammar Nazi, but with a bit less pretension, the Copy/Line Editor will go over your manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, providing valuable suggestions on everything from word choice to sentence phrasing to punctuation usage. These people are masters of the English language and will help you refine your work into it’s most clarified form. Also similar to the Structural Editor, they tend to stand between you and your final goal of publication, so it’s wise to listen to their advice.

The Reader Review

This is the holy grail of critiques. Ideally, the Reader Review is a coveted blend of Fan-boy/Fan-girl, Your Mom and the Structural Editor. The best ones will go into detail about what they loved and why, convincing other readers of your awesomeness without you having to lift a finger and providing insight into what you should include in your next book. But, though these are the reviews that matter most, they can vary widely in quality. Readers are just that, readers. They won’t have the expertise that some of the other critique categories do, nor will they try to sugar-coat their thoughts. You can get everything from a Fan-boy/Fan-girl reaction, to the complete opposite– the Hate-boy/Hate-girl, (Yes, I totally made that up, but it could be a thing, right?)– to everything in between.

A lot of writers recommend not even reading these reviews, as the negative ones will undermine every shred of self-confidence you have. But if you don’t know why your book is bombing, how will you know what not to do in the next one? I think you should periodically check up on what people have to say, just don’t obsess over it. (Again, easier said than done, right?) Negative reviews happen, and the internet allows people to be far less civil than necessary, but regardless of whether it’s good or bad, the Reader Review trumps everything else. So it’s good to pay attention to it.

The important lesson here is that feedback of any kind is good. Even the worst review can be helpful, once you learn how to see past the negativity. (There’s that darned thick skin requirement again.) No matter what, thank the person for giving their time to your work, and for bothering to review it. Receiving a bad review hurts, but I can imagine nothing worse than receiving absolutely no feedback at all. I’d rather hear that someone felt passionately enough about my work to voice their thoughts, even the nasty, hurtful ones, than fade away into obscurity to a symphony of crickets. Wouldn’t you?

How to Fix a Morphing Voice

After last week’s motivating tirade of snark, I found myself perusing Unmoving, trying to get reacquainted with the characters and plot.  I know, re-reading while in the drafting phase is a cardinal sin. But I had to, because (and this is going to horrify a lot of you) it’s been about 7 months since I last looked at the darn thing! And with a bazillion plot bunnies constantly distracting my muse like an ADD dog in a field of squirrels, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident that I remembered where I was going with poor Derek. I’d cruelly left him stuck on his park bench, and trust me, he’s quite pissed about it.

But anyway, I was reading (OK skimming, I do know the story better than that) along; everything was going well; I was getting inspired, the muse focusing, and then Bam! Derek’s voice shifted, and not in that it’s-just-this-scene kind of way. No, it shifted in the I-took-too-damn-long-to-write-this-and-now-I’m-a-different-writer kind of way. And I realized I had forgotten a big reason why you should never be a slow writer like me– the morphing voice.

When it takes you an eon to write a novel, you’ll run into this problem. (And yes, that makes reason #6 why you don’t want to be me, in case you were counting. 😉 ) Growth is an inevitable part of the process, just as it is in life. Creative influences will come and go, creeping into your style and changing it without your permission. Your perspective on things will change, and suddenly your character does a complete 180 in their personality. Or you simply improve, because, as they say, practice makes perfect. Regardless of why it happens, when you take too long on a project, you’re bound to find yourself staring down the barrel of the morphing voice. And that’s a blow to your manuscript editors won’t forgive. So how do you fix it? Well, that’s the tricky part.

The way I see it, you have three options.
 

Option 1: Edit and Hope it Works

 
This seems like the logical choice, right? You’ll have to edit anyway, so why not just shrug it off and deal with it later. But that’s not actually a good plan. Depending on how dramatic the shift is, trying to edit it into submission can turn into a giant pit of tar you’ll never escape from.

Chances are good the problem lies in the beginning of your story. And the thing about editing is that it’s like throwing a pebble into a pool of standing water. Even minor tweaks can create disastrous ripples, impacting the entire manuscript and obliterating the later parts in a tidal wave of mess. It can be done, but only if you possess an editor’s eye for structural inconsistencies and can accurately assess exactly where the voice distorts and why. Or, alternatively, you could bribe an editor with those skills to help you out. I suggest a large plate of brownies. Or money. Money works too. The point is, it takes a valiant effort on the part of the editor (whether that be you or the poor schmuck you lured in with the promise of chocolate) to save a story from a schizophrenic voice.  And even then, the result is likely to be stilted, rocky and forced. Which is why I would probably go with Option 2.
 

Option 2: Rewrite

 
Ah, rewrite. Every writer’s most hated nemesis. (Except me, but I’m weird. We established that a long time ago.) In this scenario, it’s actually your best friend. Unlike editing, where you can tweak and twist and try your darnedest to force your manuscript and characters into submission, rewrite provides a clean slate. OK, a partially clean slate.

In this strategy, you actually start over with a blank page, using the original work as a template. The key is to hold on to the scene itself, not the words. By picturing the scene and divorcing your words, you can try again to capture it in your new, improved writer-voice. Instead of ending up with the strange, forced sound that editing alone gives you, you end up with an organic, natural-feeling version that should coincide perfectly with the later parts of the story. Sounds like the perfect solution, no?

The problem is that many writers are unable to step away from that original version. Maybe it was particularly painful to do the first time, or they just can’t kill their darlings. Whatever the reason, they dig their heels in and resist. Personally, I have no problem saying “Sayonara!” to a section and starting over, but I can understand why it would be hard for others. Rewriting like this requires a blind leap of faith. You’re trusting yourself to recapture the scene in a different way; trusting that it will be better than the original, that it will convey the same message but in a shinier package. And that kind of self-belief can be hard.

There’s no doubt that this approach is the most difficult, both in what’s required and in the amount of work involved. But I believe it’s usually the best option. Once you get over the fear, rewriting can become a freeing experience, and you might even be surprised at how much stronger the scene is the second time around.

But, for those unconvinced cynics out there, there is a third option.
 

Option 3: Scrap the Whole Thing and Walk Away

 
Hey, I didn’t say you would like it! 😉

If editing has made your manuscript a bigger mess than when you started; if the idea of rewriting has you screaming in horror and feels like a Mount Everest sized task you’d rather die than tackle, then you’re really only left with one choice. Scrap it and walk away. Brutal, yes, but what else can you do?

Chalk it up to a learning experience, hide away the embarrassing evidence in a drawer somewhere, and move on. It doesn’t mean you failed. It just means that maybe that wasn’t the project you were meant to complete. It was a practice run, a chance to stretch your literary wings. And now you can fly with the next one.

See? It’s not all bad and dreary. In fact, I bet all of us have at least one half-finished manuscript lurking around somewhere that already serves this purpose. It’s OK to have more than one. They can be buddies then.

As for me and my conundrum with Unmoving, I’ll be choosing option 1. Usually I go with 2, but in this case, I think I can salvage it. At least, I seriously hope so. I shudder to think how long it would take me to complete if I had to start over. At that point, I might just chuck it at the wall (or a blazing fire) and go with option 3. There are plenty more plot bunnies where that one came from. But I don’t think it will come to that. Will it, Derek? *sends a pointed glance at the stack of pages on the desk*

Obviously, the best fix for a morphing voice is not to end up facing it in the first place. But I’m curious, have you had to deal with this issue? How did you fix it? Share your strategies in the comments below. 🙂