Monday, August 29, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

There is an article in a recent Writer's Digest that I wanted to share.  It's not often that I see a concise, clear explanation of voice but I thought that the writer of this particular piece did it quite well.  The writer, Brian Klems, said that "Your voice is how you write, the way you handle language, your style—if you have one."

Voice is one of the most ambiguous writing terms.  It gets bounced around in lots of different ways and, I must admit, I struggled with understanding its meaning early on.  Someone would say to me, "I like your voice!" and I would only scratch my head.  My voice?  But, these are my words!! Voice = words? Sacré bleu! I didn't get the connection. 

I read two very different books this weekend and thought a lot about voice and its importance.  The first, a young adult novel, had a pitch-perfect voice.  The prose was written in a way that you believed it came from a teenager's mind and therefore it was easy to get lost inside the story.  In the second, another young adult novel, the plot was intriguing but the voice was way too jaded, even too old, so while the story was interesting, it rang a little untrue and it was difficult for me to connect with the story. 

When I come across something that explains voice well, I feel compelled to share. To read the complete Writers Digest article, click here.

19 comments:

Crystal Cheverie said...

Thank you SO much for posting this - believe me, you are NOT alone with your struggle to understand voice. I, too, didn't really get it for the longest time. I like to think I'm beginning to get the hang of it now. I guess time will tell! :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Even after two books, I still don't have a clue about voice.

Angelina Rain said...

Thanks for sharing. I think most of us have a problem with understanding voice. When I used to write short stories and post them online when I was a teen, I had a few people comment on my 'voice'. My response was always "this person must be crazy because they didn't hear me speak" lol.

Claire Lachance said...

Voice is pretty tough to understand. Thanks for sharing that link!

Karen Walker said...

This confused me as well, Liz, when I first began writing and reading books on writing. Anything that helps us understand what works in writing is worthwhile. thanks for sharing.
Karen

Madeleine said...

Oh I agree with you. Voice is the hardest to define. I blogged about it in the A-Z challenge with the same conclusions.

Talli Roland said...

Thanks loads of that clear definition. It's so hard to get the voice just right for the story.

Sarah Pearson said...

Voice is one of the hardest things to understand, even when you're doing it 'right' you don't always know how you're doing it!

Heather said...

Thanks for the article! "Voice" is a strange thing...I continue to struggle with it, so I truly appreciate any and all help! :)

raelynbarclay said...

On one level I understand voice but mastering it is another story all together. That's a great article. Thank you for sharing it.

Michael Offutt said...

Oh well that makes sense. When an agent tells you they don't connect with the voice...what they're really saying is "Your writing sucks in my opinion."

J.L. Campbell said...

I'm lucky that I came across 'voice' long after I knew what I was doing, so it wasn't such a hardship understanding what it meant.

Amy Jarecki said...

Hi Liz - Great post! I also look at voice as a writer's fingerprint. Other's may try to copy it, but they just can't!

LD Masterson said...

I understand voice in theory but practical application is another matter entirely.

Trisha said...

One of the most awesome books for good 'voice' I read recently was L.K. Madigan's "Flash Burnout" - sounded so like an American teenaged boy that I was totally captivated. Adored it.

Jo Schaffer said...

The magic ingredient! (= Learning to relax and use a "natural" voice can be quite a challenge.

Cold As Heaven said...

That's a good definition of voice.

The Scream is a cool picture, one of the the best my Munch. It was stolen from the museum some years ago, but fortunately it has been found and brought back

Cold As Heaven

Kathleen said...

Great link. I think most writers have a hard time understanding voice=)

Liz Fichera said...

I'm glad many of you enjoyed the Writer's Digest article. Somehow (don't ask me how) I wound up on their email list. I get their newsletters, I believe twice each month. They're usually packed with helpful info so I've never unsubscribed from their link.