Wednesday, 25 April 2012

V is for Voice

Welcome to "V" in my A-Z series "26 Things that Made Me a Writer".

You know that new TV show, "The Voice"? There's a US and a UK version. If you don't, it's a twist on the talent show format where contestants sing to a group of judges with their chairs facing the other way. If they like what they hear, they turn round to see the person.

Well, it's always been like that with writers. We send off an email or letter to an agent or publisher, and they judge us based on our writing, while knowing the bare minimum about us (because there's hardly space for a detailed biog in a covering letter). Voice is vital. And unlike the bricks and mortar of good writing (sentence construction, structure, grammar), it can't be taught. Your voice is the way it is, although of course it can be developed with practice to be at its best.

Not everyone is going to like your voice. They could be hooked by your story and intrigued by your characters, but it's hard to keep reading a book if you don't like the way it's told. But there could be plenty of others who are drawn in by your mellifluous phrasing or clipped prose. Like everything it's subjective, but it's wonderful that every voice is unique.

I'm glad I have my voice, and I wouldn't change it for anything. It's me. Let's celebrate our voices today!

Do you like your voice? Do you work at it, or find that it comes naturally?

27 comments:

Elise Fallson said...

FIRST!

Elise Fallson said...

Voice is so important. Sometimes in my writing my voice comes naturally, but sometimes I've lost it completely. I guess I don't "know" my voice as much as I would like.

Angeline Trevena said...

I have a very distinct voice, and I always have, whether writing fiction or academically. You're right, not everyone will like it, but it's something to be proud of.

I hear a lot of writers saying they don't have a voice, but I think it's more a case of them not having the self assurance to hear it. Not yet.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like to think it's simple but effective.

Kyra Lennon said...

I think I've only just discovered my voice - but I like to think it's pretty good! :D

Liwi said...

I think finding your own voice is so important and you should stand behind it at all times. Unless of course, your voice changes. Writing style is so crucial and personal and when it comes to your readers, well, you win some and you lose some!

Tobi Summers said...

I think it took me awhile to really appreciate my voice, but now I like it. I like reading back things I've written and really feeling the the ebb and flow of the sentences. When it's right, something just clicks into place, and there's no better feeling.

Matthew MacNish said...

It's interesting to think about how I have a voice as a writer, and my characters each have their own voice, and then even each story sometimes has its own kind of voice, depending on who's narrating. When they all come together, that's when things really shine.

Cortney Pearson said...

My voice varies depending on the character I'm writing, but I like it! :)

E. Arroyo said...

I think I found it. I hope I found it. =) Great post.

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Hi Nick, I think we have to write a lot to find our true voice. Great post. And there's an Australian The Voice too and apparently the show began in The Netherlands. I love it! Our current series has Seal and Josh Madden as well as two excellent Aussie judges.

Denise

Mina Burrows said...

Damn straight on the voice! Sooooo imperative!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like mine and I hope to continue to develop it. Usually, when my writing isn't working - a story is flat, a scene doesn't click, etc I usually can't hear my voice in it and that sends up a red flag.

I've lost count of the number of books I've read where I loved the premise but the voice made me stop reading.

Susan Oloier said...

This is a terrific post! Voice is so important. So much so, that educators try to teach it in school writing classes. But I think it's something not taught, but developed. It has taken me a long time to find mine, but it is evident now in everything I write despite the genre. And I'm pretty happy with it. I like the idea of celebrating our voices today :-)

Krista McLaughlin said...

I actually watched The Voice for the first time last night and I wasn't impressed at all. I beg to differ that the little kids on America's Got Talent have more voice than those ladies. Sorry.

But a writer's voice - so very very very very important! I think it has taken time, but I'm finally finding my author's voice. :)

Jay Noel said...

I write in 3rd person limited, shifting viewpoint - so voice is vital to my writing.

The reader has to be able to identify and know each distinctive "voice" and perspective.

Nick Wilford said...

Elise - LOL, calm down! I'm not Alex you know! :o)

Well, at least you know when it's not there.

Angeline - I think anyone who does any writing has a voice, but they might not be able to recognise it. It's interesting. I think you could tell it was me even if you read an essay from school.

Alex - That's a good way to be!

Kyra - I think so too - and very apt for your genre.

Liwi - I know, people will take it or leave it, but you can't please everyone!

Tobi - That's so true. You absolutely know when it's right.

Matthew - Thanks, I didn't really think about that - there are a lot of voices that need to work in harmony. Or maybe not quite harmony, as there needs to be tension!

Cortney - I'm glad you like it!

Nick Wilford said...

Elizabeth - Thanks. Hope you've found it too!

Denise - Yeah, it's all about practice. Thanks for the info about The Voice! We have Will I Am and Tom Jones, notably.

Mina - It is!

Madeline - You're right. If the voice leaves you cold then it's really hard to keep going.

Susan - No, it can't be taught. Because I don't think there are any golden rules on what makes a good voice. I'm glad you're happy with yours!

Krista - Ours is OK, but I don't like how every singer has to be OTT and hitting every note possible. Trying to show off their full ability, I guess.

Good luck on finding yours!

Jay - That's a good point. Hopefully if the characters are strong enough personalities, their own voices will come naturally to them, so to speak.

The Beans said...

I'm always seeking to improve my voice, but I think it's okay for now. :P

-Barb the French Bean

DL Hammons said...

This is my sixth post reading about VOICE, so obviously it is very important. I find it next to impossible to hear your own voice, but it is there none the same! :)

Cynthia said...

I am comfortable with my voice. However, when I write from the perspective of more than one character, I need to work on distinguishing one voice from the other so the voices don't all sound the same.

Mel said...

My mother has always told me that I write with a very dramatic and active voice, which is completely in odds with how I am in person. I think I like that :)

Nick Wilford said...

Barb - You certainly have plenty of wit!

DL - I know, I've seen a few other posts too. It's really difficult to describe our own voice.

Cynthia - I work on that all the time too.

Mel - Yeah, I'm very laid back in person too. I think writing's where I let it all out!

Gwen said...

I'm still discovering my voice I feel. It tends to change with projects. Though I like to see it as me being a varied writer. ^_~

Nicole said...

You're right. Voice is so key for writers!

Nick Wilford said...

Gwen - It's good to try different things to see what works best.

Nicole - Thanks!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick .. so true - I'm glad I settled in to writing as I do .. it is definitely me and our 'sound' is essential to our soul.

Cheers - and good luck with preparations etc .. Hilary