Tuesday, April 22, 2008
This is a quote from Wikipedia:: " Writer's voice is a literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice is a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). Voice can also be referred to as the specific fingerprint of an author, as every author has a different writing style.
In creative writing, students are often encouraged to experiment with different literary styles and techniques in order to help them better develop their "voice." Voice varies with the individual author, but, particularly in American culture, having a strong voice is considered positive and beneficial to both the writer and his or her audience."
I quote this because sometimes we wonder if we have a "voice." Somehow we know we "should" but don't know if we do. I particularly like the section up above where it says the writer's voice includes the use of syntax, diction, etc... across several works. It's there, whether we know it or not. It's how we express ourselves.
Sometimes I wish I could read our comments without knowing who the author is. I fancy that I could tell all of us without looking at a name. Last week, Eli told Lori she always knew her posts because of her voice and Lori mentioned that I had told her she had a distinctive voice and she hadn't been sure if that was good or bad. Thank heavens her husband told her it was good because it is. All of us have one. All of us. Karen conducted a test in one of her blogs where she gave a list of items to include in a story set up and everyone used them to their best advantage. Our voices shone through.
If you don't think you have a voice it may be because you haven't written enough yet to discern your own patterns. But think of your favorite authors, think of what you like about them, and if part of it is the manner in which they express themselves, their sentence structure, the way in which they develop a character and create dialogue -- you are admiring their voice. If you enjoy their message, their sensibilities and take on life -- then you are enjoying their voice. Because voice is a writer's essence, it's a part of who they are. You can contort it, just as an actor can assume a different role, but it will be a role then and not true. And it will show. No one is going to confuse Stephen King and Janet Evanovich and it's not because of their subject matter -- it's because of their voice.
Have you ever started reading a book and connected immediately? Felt very comfortable, understood every nuance, could almost anticipate the next word? If so, you may have run across someone with a voice very close to your own. It would be interesting to know if that familiarity runs through a person's favorite authors. I don't know if that;s true or not or stupid or not. What do you think?
Meanwhile, my advice for those of you who do not know your voice -- don't worry about it. It's there. It's like your fingerprints, it's part of you for good or bad. You can train it, you can hone it, you can refine and develop it. But it's there.