Thursday, August 26, 2010

Voice and Sensibility

Blogging at New Kids on the Writer’s Block as Kaelee Morgan– on Voice and Sensibility.
Voice, at its most basic level, is the sensibility with which an author writes. It’s a perspective, an outlook on the world, a personality and style that is recognizable even out of context.” ~ Nathan Bransford

   Writing craft guru Dwight Swain writes “each of us experiences and responds to life differently, in a manner uniquely and individually his own. As a writer, your task is to bring this heart-bound feeling to the surface in your reader: to make it well and swell and surge and churn.” (page 7, Techniques of the Selling Writer).

So, how do we make it well and swell and surge and chum?  With our voice.

First, there’s the matter of style. Choices a writer makes with words, sentence structure, figurative language, and how emotion or conflict is layered.

Personality should also be present on the page.  For me, personality is reflected in the tone, setting, and theme.

Originality is a must. As I mentioned in a previous post, To Thine Own Voice Be True. Be yourself. Write what comes natural. Write what you know. Don’t be an imitation. Only Nora can be Nora. Aspire to be You.

Enrapture and provoke. I call this the Calgon, Take Me Away syndrome. Whisk the reader away from their every day life. Help them experience your character’s world as if they were there, in the middle of the story. As a participant, not a bystander.

Be consistent and in control. Know your characters. Know their story. Weave a tale that only you can tell. And tell it fresh. Tell it with power. Tell it with confidence.

In my endeavor to define my own voice, I’ve started to understand that it isn’t something you study like grammar and vocabulary. It’s recognized through practice, the same way a vocalist discovers, develops, and strengthens their range by singing and experimenting. So a writer must write and explore. Figure out what feels natural. What doesn’t. Write, write, write. And then write some more. Read what you wrote when you first began writing and compare it to your current work in progress. You will begin to see and hear your writer’s voice.

Rachelle Gardner explains in her blog that finding your voice “is a process of peeling away the layers of your false self, your trying-to-be-something-you're-not self, your copycat self, your trying-to-sound-a-certain-way self, your spent-my-life-watching-television self. It's like going to psychotherapy, delving deep and allowing the real you to emerge, only in this case you want it to find its way on to the page.”

So, tell me.  Have you peeled away the layers to discover your  true voice? What have you learned in the process that makes your voice unique?

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Rebecca Lynn said...

I've been discovering my voice this year, and it's been an intense process. I realized that I give my critique partners too much of a say in how my story gets communicated. And I realized that I pull back on my sarcasm when it offends people. Also, when I occasionally use a cliche, and someone says, "that's a cliche", I immediately take it out.

But what I've learned is that I can trust the way I phrase things, and don't need to cow-tow to how my cps say I need to re-phrase it. Yes, when I say something, I really meant to say it. And I write with sarcasm, so I guess I'll have to find an audience that appreciates my voice, some of whom perhaps will not include some of my cps. And that's okay. And occasionally, a cliche can be ironic, and funny, and I believe that to be true. The "no cliches" rule is sometimes meant to be broken, just like every other rule.

Anyway, I guess I'm still learning about my voice, so I can't say this is the end of the process, but it's definitely where I am today. And I don't mind being here. I like discovery, so I'm happy where I am right now.
August 26, 2010 6:42 AM

Renee said...

I think I've come into my voice over the last year. One thing I'm truly blessed with is awesome cps. They don't try to change my voice at all.

Rebecca, I ignore the cliche rule. If I write a cliche I'll change it up to suit my time period. Speaking of cliches, I once had a judge tell my green eyes were a cliche.
August 26, 2010 12:15 PM

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I also have just discovered my voice and now find writing easier because I let my personality flow through my characters. My stories are working better now and even a contest win and a perfect score has resulted from having more confidence.
August 26, 2010 12:51 PM

Julie Shumway said...

I think I know my voice, but like Rebecca Lynn I have let others convince me my voice isn't right.
August 26, 2010 4:05 PM

Kaelee Morgan/Kristal Lee said...

Hey all!
I too have been caught disguising my voice based on critiques and contest feedback. I'm working on one WIP that I'm totally rewriting because I realized with all the edits that I'd written my voice right off the page. I hope I won't let that happen again.
August 26, 2010 4:32 PM

Total Pageviews