Thursday, August 12, 2010


Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do – Blogging (as Kaelee Morgan) on writer’s voice at New Kids on the Writer’s Block – (Reposted)

I can hear Julie Andrews singing in the Sound of Music simply by reading the words do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do. Her voice is as clear and distinctive in my mind as it was to my ears when I heard her sing them. I will never mistake another singer for her.


Because her voice is unique and very identifiable.

At the mention of her name, I bet you heard her voice in your head too-- if, you've ever heard her sing. If you haven't, you should.

As a writer, I want my manuscripts to be as vivid and memorable as a Julie Andrews performance. I want readers to recognize my voice from the first paragraph. I want it to stand out. I want it to sing to the rafters.

But first, I have to learn what my voice is and isn't.

I pulled out some old contest critiques on my first manuscript to see if others had heard my voice. What a relief that they had. I read comments about "strong voice" and "unique voice".  But what does that mean?

Ambiguous terms, although complimentary and very appreciated, haven't helped me in my quest to discover who I am as writer.

To help me gain a better understanding of  "voice,"  I bought books and dug through past issues of RWR. ( I keep every issue and stack them on the floor in my home office because they contain nuggets of wisdom that I need to dig for from time to time.)

In the July 2008 RWR, Julie Rowe wrote an article entitled "Love Your Voice" and said, "Voice is an extension of who the writer is. [It] is a writer's personality on paper."

Hmmm.  Houston we have a kink in the fuel line.

In life, I have two distinct personalities. My work personality and my non-work personality. The two are very different. Maybe that's why I'm having difficulties defining my writer's voice. In re-reading the old contest critiques, I came across a reviewer's comment that my writing style fluctuated between formal and informal with the suggestion to pick one and stick to it.

In essence she was saying, "Know thy Self."

Julie Andrews had to learn her true singing range in order to become the vocalist everyone recognizes. I need to learn my true writing style in order to become the novelist I want to be.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be researching the different elements of voice and trying to define my own through some writing exercises. So, come "sing" with me in a two minute  practice session in writing outside the box.

Write at least four alternate uses for the following items:

* A popsicle stick

* A bobby pin (hair pin)

* A newspaper

* A dog bone

I'll post mine in the comments later in the day, and no I won't look at yours first. I already have mine written.

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Rebeca Lynn said...

This sounds like a MacGuyver exercise. I'm sorry, I need to come back when I'm not listening to bad 90s boy bands. Oddly, right when I clicked onto the blog, who sould come on my Pandora but "New Kids on the Block". Freaky.

I swear, that was not subliminal.

Plus, it's not one of their good ones, so it would never make me think of this blog. :-)

This is an interesting post. I'm gonna have to sit down and write this exercise and see what I come up with.

Emery Lee said...

Interesting and thought provoking post.
I agree completely that voice is personality on paper. My own is very formal, and therefore completely in fitting with my 18th century era. It would not work at all if I chose to try my hand at contemporary fiction.

So, I would add that you should strongly consider the strengths of your natural voice in deciding what genre to write.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Interesting post. I believe the best way to find your writer's voice is to keep writing.
Write and write and write. :)

Sarah Hoss said...

Great post. I am working on finding my voice; making sure that it is me and not what I think it should be. I'll do the exercise and see what happens.

August 12, 2010 11:57 AM

Renee said...

I love the topic of voice and have blogged about it a few times in the past. Finding your voice and honing it comes from writing. The more you write the more you begin to hear your own voice.

Wonderful post! I'll have to come back later when I take another break from rewrites.
August 12, 2010 12:28 PM

Kaelee Morgan/Kristal Lee said...

Okay, here's my list:
POPSICLE STICK: a bookmark, a sundial, use a bunch to make a basket, use it to scratch an itch.
BOBBY PIN: ear cleaner (like a Q-tip), clip papers together, clean fingernails, use it to poke the eye of an attacker.
NEWSPAPER: wrapping paper, window cleaner, place mat, use it to make a threatening note or ransom letter.
DOG BONE: hammer, paper weight, throw it at the armadillo that burrows in the yard, break car window if you crash in a lake.
August 12, 2010 5:02 PM

Kaelee Morgan/Kristal Lee said...

Geez! Reading my list now that it's posted I can see my dark side...poking an eye out, a threatening note, breaking a car window.

Rebecca Lynn said...

It was interesting to see you point out what you saw in your list. Do you find your voice to be darker in your paranormals?

I still haven't done this yet. I need to try it.
August 12, 2010 11:04 PM

Lynn said...

Sorry - late - I've been super tired lately and last night just caught up with me.
Uses for --
A popsicle stick - build a model cabin.

* A bobby pin (hair pin)If you had to google it, I don't want to know.. lock pick.

* A newspaper - Story fodder. I just glanced at a list of foreclosure notices yesterday and my mind started crafting.

* A dog bone - Sorry, this is a fighting instrument. In my house, they play keep away and kill the dog over bones. I guess you could soak it and get the rawhide then patch the cabin with that.

Lame, but I'm still tired this am.
August 13, 2010 4:37 AM

Camryn Rhys said...

I've built a birdcage out of popscicle sticks before. Does that count? I'm sure that I can figure this out.
August 13, 2010 8:56 AM

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