Posts Tagged ‘voice’


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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