Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Finding voice

I've been thinking a lot about Voice.  We've all heard that.  We need voice in the manuscript, voice in the hook, the pitch, the query.  What is voice?  Where is mine?  Sure every author is unique. After all there is only one of you. So is that it?  Is it just me?

I don't think so.

Here is my own understanding of voice.

I think...here goes...that Voice is linked with that old concept of writing what you know.  This is one of my few aha moments. If you already figured this out, great!  I'm a slow learner. If not bear with me.

I write fantasy/science fiction/paranormal.  Never lived in a world of magic and dragons, never flew across space and time, and have never fell in love with a vampire--nope, not even one in the big screen.

They creep me out.

Do I write what I know. NOPE.  I don't think that's what fiction is about.  Fiction is about taking your reader with you in an experience together.  It's about drawing them into your imagination.  That idea throws out the "write what you know" advise. 

But where does Voice come in?  Voice comes in through you and what you know. Voice comes easier, for me anyway, when you know your characters, when you know your world, when you know the dynamics of the conflict you create. You have to know them inside out to navigate through the structure of your story and expect the reader to follow. Writing what you know is your voice.

I can capture that in my writing by examining people. Real people. Strange people, new people, old people, people of different professions, people of different cultures. They can be found in malls, restaurants, your local drug store or at home.  People are everywhere.  Now if you are a hermit like me you can also use videos, you tube, and your own kids. If you have 'em handy.

Where do you find your voice?


  1. Honestly I'm not sure. For me it just kind of happens. And sometimes, I'm not even consistent. My betas will tell me, "That's not what she would say!" or a certain passage's tone will be wrong.
    It's a bit of a magical thing for me, voice.

  2. Great post. I really struggle with voice and trying to make my characters sound different. I know they are all different as people but I have a hard time making them sound different.

  3. Hi there!

    Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

    We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

    “Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

    Happy writing!

  4. Lydia, Magic...I like that. I wish I had some of that dust sprinkled over here. Sometimes voice comes sometimes my characters are flat as a ...who knows. I have to work on that too.

    Hi Natalie, I think it helps to put your peeping tom hat on and examine people in their own environment. I think I'm gonna do that next time I go to the mall or something. Just observe and take notes. I hope I don't get busted.

    Now, the reberto comment is weird. Never had that happen to me. I'll leave it up but I don't know who he is or where he came from.

    Thanks for your comments!

  5. Hey, you got some spam! At least it's writing-related.

  6. I'm with Lydia; I don't know. Maybe if we work hard to become better writers, somehow, some way, that process will help us find a voice?

    My thoughts keep coming back to the same initial answer: I don't know.

  7. Hi Mohamed, Thanks for stopping by. I think the finding of voice is an individual plight. There is no right answer and no wrong answer. But I think when you find it, you'll know. And you're right...we need to work hard to become better writers.

    Thanks for you comment.


Thanks for stopping by! I had to turn on the word verification due to spammers. Sorry for the inconvenience.