Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Hear Voices

Monday's post sparked an interesting discussion in the Comments concerning voice in novels.  It made me realize that "voice" varies from one writer to the next, one reader to the next. 

First of all, I'm not sure if there is one sure-fire definition of voice but here's what it means to me.  Voice is writing that elicits an emotional response.  I may not like or relate to the main character in a novel, but I do care what happens to him.  I want to keep reading to see what happens.  Usually, my interest starts from the first sentence.   That's why first sentences are so important in a novel in my opinion, but that is another topic. 

Creating voice is not easy but it should come naturally if you know your characters inside and out--even the stuff that might not make it on the page like their hobbies, likes/disklikes, idiosyncrasies.  You should know your characters as well as your own sister or spouse or favorite pet.  If you can get to that level, your reader will feel it too.  Your words will make them cry and laugh.  Their hearts will pound and their breathing will quicken as they sail across your pages.  When you can elicit that emotional response and emotional connection with your reader, you will have achieved "voice."  And when it happens, wow!  It's a beautiful thing.


Joanna St. James said...

Ha ha you are a plotter!
but i think for most pantsers we have more of a discover the character along with the reader kinda voice. Agreed i think u plotters have it good which is why i am trying to convert myself really bad.
Did i make sense today?

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Joanna,

I may be a plotter with my characters but I'm such a pantser when it comes to the plot!

BTW, you always make sense! :-)

Angelina Rain said...

Thank you, Liz, for explaining the “voice” to me. Ever since I was a kid and had to write something for school I always got the “I like your voice” response. Even now when I give something I’ve written to someone to read, I get the same response. I never knew what it meant but always felt like an idiot if I would ask. So finally I know what it means. :)

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Lia!

Keep in mind that if you ask six different people, you might get six different answers, but this is definitely what voice means to me. No matter how you explain it, though, voice is something that creates an emotional response from the reader. So glad it helped!!

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: And when it happens, wow! It's a beautiful thing.

And so powerful too. I think that's why we read certain authors without hesitation.

You did a great job explaining voice.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Everyone defines voice differently, I think. The characters' voices are one thing. The author's voice is another. I think of that more as style. Like, you can pick up a story or novel by Hemingway and immediately know who wrote it. Know what I mean?

N. R. Williams said...

Voice is unique to each writer. We should never try to duplicate another voice. With time and diligence we can achieve our own special voice. As you noted at the end of your post.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Liz Fichera said...

Hi, Maria,

Glad it made sense-especially since it's not an easy thing to explain.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Taryn,

Excellent point! However I think style and voice are very closely related. And yes, I know exactly what you mean about authors. Another great example is Laurie Halse Anderson. Her books have a very distinct voice and style.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Nancy,

I think that's where writers make their biggest mistakes--trying to duplicate the lastest voice or trend. It always rings false. Better to find your own but usually you have to dig deep first to find it.