Tag Archive - voice

A Look at Masterful Voice

I love talking about voice in fiction. I veer off from other “experts” in definition about voice. I believe that some people are referring to the writer’s style when they talk about voice.

Take a listen to what literary Donald Maass says about voice in Writing the Breakout Novel:

“I am looking for authors with a distinctive voice.” I hear that from editors over lunch almost as often as I hear, “I am looking for big, well-written thrillers.”

What the heck is “voice”? By this, do editors mean “style”? I do not think so. By voice, I think they mean not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches an author’s oeuvre. They want to read an author who is like no other. An original. A standout. A voice.

How can you develop your voice? To some extent it happens all by itself. Stories come from the subconscious. What drives you to write, to some extent, are your own unresolved inner conflicts. Have you noticed your favorite authors have character types that recur? Plot turns that feel familiar? Descriptive details that you would swear you have read before (a yellow bowl, a slant of light, an inch of cigarette ash)? That is the subconscious at work.

You can facilitate voice by giving yourself the freedom to say things in your own unique way. You do not talk exactly like anyone else, right? Why should you write like everyone else?

I’ve written about this on numerous occasions, and I go deep into voice in The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction and 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. Continue Reading…

Staying in Character: The Convergence of POV and Voice

We’re wrapping up our look this month into Fatal Flaw #5: POV Violations. And there are many. POV “rules” aren’t hard to follow once you understand them. The trick is to keep in mind that when you’re in POV, you can only see, think, hear, and feel what through the senses of that one character. Anything that veers out of POV is a violation. 

Today editor Robin Patchen delves into the POV violation involving characters’ voices.

Jane Austen’s books are all written in the same voice—hers. And we love them. But twenty-first century authors can’t write the way Jane Austen did because modern readers have different expectations. Today’s readers look for books written from deep point of view, and in deep point of view, not only are author voices different, character voices are too.

Did you ever watch the TV show Frasier? There’s a scene where his new girlfriend invites him to go antiquing with her. Kelsey Grammer’s character responds, “I’m not one of those people for whom antique is a verb.” A funny line, but it tells us something—Frasier Crane’s writers knew who he was. Do you know who your characters are?  Continue Reading…

Fine-Tuning Your Writing Style to be Concise and Specific

In our first post exploring this eleventh pillar of novel construction—Writing Style . . . Concise and Specific—we looked briefly at what is involved with having a specific style. What this means, essentially, is being deliberate about our writing style—choosing certain qualities or characteristics that fit the genre we are writing in. Genre influences the way we construct sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. It influences our word choices and how we stylize inner and outer dialog, and narrative. And it influences our tone.

More Tips on Being Specific

Part of fine-tuning your writing style to be specific is making sure it carries the proper tone throughout your book. What is tone? This post here gives an in-depth look at tone, and I encourage you to read it. It will help you understand the difference between the overall tone of your book (which relates very strongly, once again, to genre) and the voices of your characters, as well as their moods. Continue Reading…

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