For all the writers out there, one of the criticisms that often comes back from an agent or an editor is a lack of voice, or a voice that is not strong enough: “You need to find your voice,” they say.It is just one of those things, quite abstract. Infinitely more difficult to fix than “passivity” or “run-on sentences”, for instance.
So what is a “voice”, exactly, and where/how do you find it?Here are two opening passages from two different novels:
Editing your own work is a good idea. Beautiful article.
A tiny story, related to the comment that a "voice is the expression of who you are as a person and an artist".
I was standing at a Starbuck's one Saturday night a few months ago and began talking to another customer. He looked at me and asked, "Are you a poet?" Now, that's a left-field question for sure, and it shocked me. I said, "Well, I do write some poetry, but not much. I like the essay form better." "Humph," he said. "You sound like a poet."
Now, what was it he heard? I haven't a clue – we were talking about bluegrass music. But something in the two years of writing I'd done at that point had influenced me, and my "voice" as a person. I'm sure of it.
It's a way to judge what's happening with our writing, I think. We may try to develop a voice in our writing, but all the while our writing is developing our voice in our person. It's a reciprocal relationship that's worth nurturing in both directions.
Yes Voice is quite hard to define. I think it also changes depending on the style of the narrative. I immediately recognised the Moby Dick passage and I was going to say that the reason why it stood out more than the first one was because it was written in the 1st person, which is always more immediate, but then I see that the first passage was also written in 1st person, so i am also left wondering whether it has also to do with the first line hook which draws you in more effectively in the second passage than the first. Very thought provoking post. :O)
Interesting conversation. I tend to think that voice is like personality. Some people have strong ones, and some have subtle ones, and some have none to speak of. If you try to put one on, it's going to seem fake.
I worry more about mechanics when I write, and on telling the best story I can. When I read other writers, I see how far they've gone with their voices, and when they go very far, I use that as permission to expand my own voice.
Great advice on a writer's voice.
Some excellent tips here. Nothing like being one's own unique self and being good at it.
Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011
"Voice" is something that escaped me for years of writing, until one day I really allowed myself to write what I loved and the voice came naturally. Reading, reading, reading is definitely a big help. And even better? Reading out loud. There is no better way to here what is effective, engaging writing and what is not.