Voice is the author’s style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character; or. Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of the narrator of a work of fiction. ~(Taken from www.thebalance.com)
Go to your book shelf and pick a book by a favorite author.
Now pick another book from a different favorite and set it beside the first.
Open to the first page and read a chapter out of both.
They’re different right? Well, obviously they’re different but can you explain HOW? Can you describe specifics other than the novels aren’t the same genres or reading levels? (Saying they have a certain “Je ne sai quoi” is cheating btw.)
“It’s tone,” you might say. “Like the authors are writing with different accents or dialects.”
Or you might say it’s the way the sentences are structured. Maybe in the first novel they are short and gruff. In the other they may be beautifully sculpted, rolling trippingly off the tongue. Maybe they’re as dense and hard as stale bread. However the writing may be, you should be able to pick up any book by the same author and instantly recognize it as theirs. Different story, different plot line and characters maybe but still distinctly THEM. Why?
Writer’s voice should be consistent, like speaking to a friend or receiving a letter from them. The way they curse a lot or the way they dot their “i”s with little hearts. If they speak softly or write ONLY WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS should be instantly recognizable as this specific friend. You’d recognize it anywhere. Authors have branded each of their stories with their own unique thumbprint; it is something they’ll be known for forever after, no matter how many books they write.
This concept is perhaps one of the most difficult I think for young writers to grasp because it’s not something that can be TAUGHT. Plot, characterization, pacing, arcs…these can all be taught and perfected with time. Voice cannot. It’s something every writer has to discover for themselves through the process of writing. For some it might take a couple of novels to figure out. For others it may come quickly and naturally.
I find myself in an in between category when it comes to discovering my own writer’s voice. When I write my blog posts or my flash fiction, I find that the writing style is bold and consistent. A little passionate sometimes maybe but it flows from one subject to another smoothly. At least in my opinion it is does. I rather enjoy that it is that way currently and that it is a reflection of my true self.
(Yes you knew that was coming.)
Thus far I have limited myself to only writing short stories or flash fiction, usually fantasy or reality based. I’ve also had a steady diet of YA fiction in my reading lately, which explains the writing preferences.
BAD JESSIE! SPIT IT OUT!! SPIT OUT THE YA FICTION THIS INSTANT!
Writing fiction makes me feel confident and competent. I’m safe to bull shit safely within it’s walls because anything and everything goes. But it limits me as a writer. In a way, it’s taking the easy way out as compared to writing Nonfiction or poetry or even a genre I don’t read, like horror, subjects that require research and deep thought.
(Did I just make a blond joke out of writing fiction? I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry!)
Now it’s never bad to be thoroughly versed in one category before moving onto another. Being able to have an anchor to safely return to in this crazy writing world is a GOOD idea. Trying to have a finger in every pie as a beginner will likely confuse and deflate a budding writer. To really be certain that you’ve had a balanced diet though, you should explore different types of writing and reading. Penning a dark macabre flash fiction should still sound like you as much as the romance novella and the only way you’ll be able to achieve that is by knowing what you’re writing.
Telling a different story with the same voice takes practice and it’ll take some time for you to recognize it. Even longer to carry it throughout your career.
I guess I don’t really have much to say on this because I’m just discovering my own Writer’s voice but I felt I had to write about it so it’ll be on the list of subjects I can come back to eventually and expand upon.
Do Rei Mi! Good luck with your writing scales and arpeggios! 😉 I look forward to hearing your sweet new voices ^_^