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.