Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Author Voice

Author voice is somewhat of a buzz word in the writing/publishing world, wouldn't you agree? I think (read: hope) I have it, but I have a beef with it. It's this amorphous and perplexing idea that authors are told we need to have but aren't told any path to getting it. (And even worse, some are told it's an ON or OFF switch, not a DIMMER, so if you're OFF, give up writing, 'cause it ain't gonna happen.)

I feel that my voice shows up the most in my dialogue. I'm quippy and fairly quick-witted (I like to think) in person. So I like my dialogue exchanges to be the same. I can reproduce this "voice" while my characters are thinking, as well. Of course, I can't be funny all the time, but those are the scenes I just L O V E to write.

So I'm developing a theory to try to put some structure and form to author "voice." Could it be that YOUR voice shows through the scenes you love to write, too? What's so enjoyable about them? Could it be that, on some level, the scene reflects YOU as a person, YOUR quirks, YOUR temperament, something YOU would respond with?

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Eileen Astels Watson said...

Agree with all of the above!!!

I've been told that if an authors voice is strong enough, someone, like an editor or agent familiar with many authors, can read a couple paragraphs of ones work without knowing which of his/her authors wrote it and be able match the correct author with it right away. So, to me, this means that it is all-encompassing. Like our audible voice together with our cadences, it's unique to us.

I think that's why it's so difficult for some authors to develop their voice (not excluding me). They're afraid of revealing too much of themselves in their writing. It is scary, really, to put your whole self into your stories. We all like to keep some secrets. Right?

Jody Hedlund said...

If you could come up with a formula for figuring out voice and then write a book about it, I would be the first to buy it!

It's so hard to understand exactly what voice is. I've read so many articles about it and am still confused!

I didn't really think I had a "voice" yet, but the editor who is critiquing my MS said that she was getting a good sense of my voice! So, maybe voice is something so natural that it just comes out without having to try. Maybe it's when we start trying that we start imitating others and actually loose our uniqueness?

T. Anne said...

I can usually tell my favorite authors through a variety of their work just based on their author voice. I write in two different genres and the voices are distinctly different although within the genre's it remains the same. make sense?

Cindy said...

I think it's hard to pin down what "voice" actually is. There are books I've enjoyed because the writing was smooth and to the point and I liked the story and the characters. But as far as voice? What voice? But other books I've read had a humorous narrator that made me think something as simple as making toast was just great! I think it depends on the genre and it depends on how appealing you writing is to the reader. A melodious piece of prose that sounds pretty just to read I think still shows an authors voice because it showcases WHO they are. Hmm...maybe I haven't made much of a point here. Maybe voice is subjective *shrugs* Cool post, though.

Terri Tiffany said...

I think I am slowly finding mine--after 3 and a half books. There are scenes I like to write and others I try to hurry through. But I know after I write something if it is me...usually it isn't but now and then!!
Thanks for visiting my blog today. You've got a great one!

Katie said...

HA! The scenes I love to write are the heartbreaking ones! What does this say about me?

You definitely have quick wit - and I love reading Joshua and Kathy's exchanges. Favorite dialogue exchange to date is the one between those two about fairy tales!

Jill Kemerer said...

I can definitely hear an author's voice when I'm reading maybe because when I find authors I love, I read all of their books.

I can also hear an author's voice in manuscripts that haven't been published, so it's not only an experience thing.

Feel free to disagree, but I feel it's the way an author balances all of the elements of the book (dialogue, exposition, description, etc..) and the unique placement of each word. I might write a sentence similar to someone else, but my word placement would be different than the other's. All of the little nuances add up to voice.

Jessica said...

Wow! Awesome questions. I honestly have no clue. I do think though, that voice is something "heard" or "not heard". Just because one person either a) doesn't care for the writing or b) says there's no voice, doesn't mean it's not there.
I wonder if your theory about voice is true? It's interesting to think about, that's for sure.

Jeannie Campbell said...

you guys are awesome. lots of great ideas tossed around in this comment section. i just am fascinated by the idea of voice. i'll let you know if i write that book, jody!

Lady Glamis said...

I just did a post on voice. I'm obviously struggling with finding my voice, and it's very, very frustrating.

I think VOICE is being honest with yourself and allowing yourself to reach down to the core of your emotions and connect with your characters. Relate to them. Interact with them.

I'm supposedly missing voice in my current novel, and I'm not exactly sure how to go about fixing that yet. Great question!

Mary Connealy said...

The trouble with voice is it's so vague. I am being branded, which is great, as a historical wester romantic comedy writer and maybe that's 'voice'. But to me my voice is romantic comedy.
I think I can write comedy in all genres. But that is not exactly a 'brand'.
It's all pretty confusing and maybe it's NOT confusing, maybe it's putting it into words that's confusing. I often think most of the solid books on writing are simply putting into words what most of us are already doing.
An MRU have you ever heard of that?
Motivation Reaction Unit.
What that means is FIRST the event happens, THEN you react.
I've heard people go on and on about it when all I can think of is DUH!
I'm thinking of writing a book called, "Begin Your Book, Write the Middle Next, Then End It."
I'll make a fortune. :D