Archive for September, 2011


Spit it out

“Ah hum, cough, spit, sputter, slobber and cough some more.” Excuse me; I’m searching for my voice. I’ve either misplaced it or I never had it to begin with. I’m talking about my writing voice, which may sound somewhat like my actual voice, or not.

Last week I decided to write about voice as it pertains to one’s writing. I sat in front of the computer for a long time, stumped. I realized I knew little about the subject. This wasn’t a great awaking though, because I know a whole lot about nothing. So, I revved up my three wheel computer and peddled off to Google Land–Mr. Google knows everything about everything. After three days of researching and studying all I could find, I’m as confused as ever. It seems everyone has his/her own opinion of what voice really means and how one should go about perfecting it. However, I was able to pick out several things that most, including me, agreed on. I made another revelation. That being, the reason why I felt I didn’t know anything about voice.

Who’s voice?

First let me say, there are two voices one must be aware of when writing, i.e., your narrative voice and your character’s voice. One should concentrate more on your character’s voice. Your own voice should not be as difficult to iron out.

What is voice?

Mostly,voice pertains to the characters you write about, whether fictional or actual. Because everyone has a recognizable voice, which in itself is a remarkable fact, i.e., the world’s populations is speeding towards the 7 billion mark and each one of us has a unique voice. All a writer has to do is develop a voice for a paltry few characters. Don’t ask how one accomplishes this. They are your characters, your passion, and the main reason for your writing. Know your characters inside out.

You should know how they sound and act under many situations. Never let them all sound alike, even the least insignificant. If a character only has one line, make that line unforgettable. Vagueness will not only kill your story, it will confuse your reader. They may get lost and wonder who is speaking or thinking and will have to backtrack to find out. Get in your character’s head; let their character show, not only in how they speak, but also in how they think and act. That is unless your character is trying to be deceptive. That would be a trait in itself. If you are not inside your character, feeling his fervor, looking through his eyeballs and hearing his thoughts, you will not be as effective a writer as you could be.

Who, me?

Then there is the writer’s voice. Many writers dwell too long and too hard on this, and it is such a simple thing to master. I think. Don’t worry about it my friends. It will come to you. All you have to do is write, write and write some more. After a couple million words, you should find your voice. This is the best piece of information I can pass on to you. Most writers, whether successful or not, will agree. The successful ones have found and tweaked their voice to please their readers. Other writers may have outstanding voices and not even realize it. Others may flounder around having no idea what voice means. It’s a huge disservice to our readers if they must wander about seeking which character is speaking.

A writer’s voice is just that. It’s your speech pattern. It comes from your background, your ideology, the place where you grew up. Think about it. We can tell by a person’s speech here they come from. We know a Yankee when we hear one speak, unless they are one of those Damn Yankees, like me, who came down south and forgot to go back home. Who cannot tell someone is from the city of New York? Even New Yorkers can tell what part of the city another New Yorker comes from. Language is such a wondrous knack.

Say it as you feel it

So, relax and let your voice come through, that is unless you want to put on airs and write so no one knows you’re a phony, as I am, or you are speaking to a certain audience. You can change you writing voice just as you can change your actual voice, but it ain’t easy. Your own unique voice is installed and waiting to burst forth. Let it go, or is it, let go of it?

I never paid much attention to my writing voice. That’s because I was of the opinion that a writer gains voice simply by writing, i.e., voice comes eventually, sooner to some than to others. I found out, like many other aspects of writing, everyone seems to have a different opinion on voice. It ranges from, “Don’t worry about it buddy, it’ll come to yah,” to, “Well, my good fellow, voice is a complicated subject and every aspect of it must be carefully thought through.” After reading that highfalutin article, which by the way, sounded as though one must take several college courses on voice alone. This may be so, but it’s more than this old hillbilly can handle.


There’s only two, and I think I have mentioned each twice. In any case, here they areagain. What’s the old saying? “The third time’s the charm.” Don’t worry about your writing voice, if you don’t yet have it, you soon will. Concentrate on your character’s voice: this is the meat of your story. Gnaw on it for a right smart while so your reader can easily digest it. Let me mention also, and this applies to just about all aspects of writing. Read everything you can get your eyes on, especially what lies in your main interests, and write about what
sets a fire under you.

Happy writing and have a pleasant day.


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Do you need assistance with your ailing book?

I met a doctor of a different kind the other day. This doctor specializes in administering to the many ailments of books. Not the book physically, but the words in the book. Can you imagine that? I knew there were a lot of sick books out there, but I never dreamed there were doctors who made them well. Specialization is what it’s about, I guess.

Few publishers these days employ editors to pick out your flaws, mistakes and ailments. And, if your book is ailing, your chances of getting it published are slim to none; unless you are like me, self publishing. Book doctors even help these poor souls. Publishers seldom read a manuscript beyond the first error. So, to insure yours is in topnotch shape, it might behoove you to seek out one of these book doctors and have them give it a good going over.

What is a book doctor?

A book doctor is actually an experienced editor. I don’t know if this falls under the heading of being politically correct or not. Anyway, a book doctor not only finds the sort of things an editor usually does, like spelling, punctuation and word usage, but delves deeper into things like plots, beginnings, middles and endings, just about everything up to and including writing or rewriting the whole book for you.

Besides picking out those missing or misplaced commas, they can, depending on how extensive a diagnosis your want, or how fat you wallet is, check that your plot is working, see that your point of view is consistent, determine that your setting is clear, the whole gamut of things that could be wrong with your book.

So, book doctors are specialized editors, if you will, who diagnose and prescribe a treatment for your ailing book, short story or whatever it is you’re writing. Some book doctors specialize in certain genres and works of nonfiction.

Why would you need a book doctor?

The first and, in my estimate, the strongest reason is, it is difficult for writers, even the best writers, to edit emselves. If you don’t have a friend or know someone who is willing and qualified to do your editing, a book doctor is out there to assist you. Maybe you’re just bogged down and need a push in the right direction, or you know there is something
wrong but can’t quite put your finger on it. A book doctor may be of assistance.

Okay then, you’re interested in having a diagnoses of your work. What does it cost? Well, that’s like everything else in this big beautiful world, i.e., you gets what you pays for.This particular book doctor I met seems to be reasonable.
She has a minimum charge of $2.00 per double spaced page and furnishes a two to five page diagnosis. Other book doctors can charge into the thousands of dollars and many even work out a percentage of your advances and royalties. A few hundred spent hiring a book doctor early in the game can save you postage, paper and copy charges down the road. Not to mention all the time lost waiting for rejection slips or lack of responses. Time, especially if you’re at my age, is getting precious. Don’t ask me who that book doctor was I referred to, she was only a figment. Pssss, she wouldn’t give me a reference fee, which reminds me. A word of caution; beware of scammers. There are loads of them lurking out there. Most honest book doctors/editors offer a free sample of their work.

Here are some sites to visit.




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