Monday, January 3, 2011

Writing: How Do You Pronounce Zooey?

(via weheartit)

I'm doing some rewrites now, for the novel that's told with a dual POV between two sisters. I'm working on one story/perspective at a time and starting with the younger sister's story because hers is the one that really needs the huge overhaul.

I've spent four days working on her story.
I've written and deleted thousands of words.
I have, right now, only 500 words in the new draft. But, I think, they're good words, and that's what's important, right?

Writing is so weird. I have these characters in my head, two sisters just a few years apart. They're imaginary people, but to me they're real and they have all these dreams/fears/desires/problems/stories that they're trying to work through. That I'm trying to write through. One of them is in love and the other is gorgeous. One already feels like she's lost everything and the other isn't sure what there is to lose. One knows exactly who she is and the other has no idea. It's hard to show all of that, to make sure that the people in my mind show up on paper. To make readers, if I ever have any, know these girls as well as I do. I run over things when I'm working on a novel, really working on the big-picture items. Lately I've been thinking a lot about Zooey, this beautiful and insecure character, and trying to make her story click together.

I think about looking in the mirror and not feeling like that person is you. Of not really knowing who you is and kind of, maybe, not wanting it to be who everyone else seems to think it is.
I think about hating a place and loving a place, sometimes at the same time.
I think of growing. Growing too tall for your clothes as a kid, too big for the box that you're put in as you get older. Not fitting the labels you've worn for years. Wanting to bust out of who you used to be or, sometimes, being forced to bust out.
I think about jealousy and envy and hate... all those emotions we like to sweep under the rug. And I think about the insecurity, the wanting something you can't have that lies underneath that.

Like Zooey herself, I'm not quite sure what sort of person she'll be by the end of this. In the last draft she was dealing with a lot of big things that somehow don't fit in the novel now. Her story is narrowing down to a pinpoint, down to just her and who she is and who she wants to be and who she doesn't want to be. Some of these things are easy to know, others are more difficult. 

Rewriting is hard. I have to get rid of all that fun stuff, like the scene where she throws a rock at someone's brand new car and the heirloom glass dish she breaks. That stuff is hard - but necessary - to get rid of, and now I have to replace it. And I'm not quite sure what with. 

I want a crying scene.
A screaming scene.
A fight scene.
And, I can't help it, I want her to throw a rock at someone's car, though at this point there's no real "villain" anymore, which makes things more difficult.
Of course, there are other things I want in her story, too. Quieter scenes, less explosive, because Zooey's not really an explosive person. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

So that's what I'm working on. Character and story and rewriting - all things that take lots of time and thought and I wish I could just hurry up already but I think it's something I should probably take my time on. Quality of words > quantity of words and all that.

Also! How would you pronounce the name Zooey?


  1. I would pronounce it ZOH-ee, mostly because I don't like the sound of ZOO-ee. It sounds too much like a hog call. "SOOOOO-EEEEEEE! Here pig! Here pig!"

  2. Another vote for ZOH-ee.

    It sounds like you're making progress. You're thinking hard about the story and the characters. Those are signs of a seriously good writer.

    This was a lovely post to read.

  3. It could technically be 'zoo-ee', but alls I know is that Zooey Deschanel pronounces it Zoh-ee.


  4. Sounds like a great story, I hope I get to buy it in a bookshop one day - I'm sure I will :)


  5. Katie Librarian
    Thank you. Zoh-ee is how I imagined it being pronounced also.

    Clementine Bojangles
    & glad you liked the post.

    Amy Lukavics
    Yay, it looks like most people are pronouncing it the same way I do.

    Awww, thank you. I hope so too.
    & you are the only person (at least on the blog) to pronounce it that way. I'm wondering if I should maybe change the spelling.

  6. Also for ZO-Eee, but it just sounds WEIRD in my head the other way. (Agree with the suuuueeeey pig call :P )