Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding My Voice

Everywhere, you see people talking about an author's "voice." Writing blogs tell you to develop it. Reviewers comment on it. Agents and publishers look for it.

For the longest time, I have to admit I didn't understand voice at all. I thought it was just something to do with writing style and word choice. Finally, however, I get it. It's so much more than just word choice. It's the use of sentence structure, the flow of the language. The way the words feel when you see them or read them aloud.

I've spent several years trying to model myself on specific authors whose books I enjoy, but it's only now that I'm branching out my reading choices that I'm starting to see more variety in voice. As a result, I've learned that the authors I've been trying to model, while excellent, have their own unique voice. I need my own. Not theirs.

My voice isn't about long descriptions or minutae. It's not about a narrator cracking comments to the reader. It's clear, concise, but vivid. My editor tells me I excel at dialogue and action. I was thrilled to hear that. These are the areas for me to focus on, because they're my strengths. The more I write and edit, the more I learn to let go of clunky, repetetive dialogue tags or overly-wordy narration. I want to write the way my voice tells me. Fun, snappy dialogue. Fast-paced adventure. I want to entertain readers with my own unique voice.

I don't have to be like any other author. I can be myself.

What are some authors' voices you've loved? If you're a writer yourself, how did you find your voice, and what is it?