#AtoZChallenge — Voice

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Your writer’s voice is supposed to be something that is uniquely your own. But what does that really mean? What the hell is writer’s voice? And how can you find something when you’re not even sure what it is?

Is it your style of writing? Is it your tone? Or is voice something else entirely?

According to one article I came upon, “voice is not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches a writer’s oeuvre.”

I’m sorry, but that didn’t help at all. “A writer’s oeuvre”? Seriously?

V is for Voice, Fandango

I read this a few hours ago, and it’s occurred to me that since I left such a long comment it might as well become my post for the day. So here’s that comment, with some additions.

My concentration in college was Creative Writing, so I took a lot of writing courses. One of them focused specifically on “voice” — a concept that I’m still a little shaky on, to be honest, but hear me out.

Throughout the semester, the professor and I had a running argument about fanfiction. I am all for as a writing exercise, because it creates opportunities to be creative within a finite set of rules (canon) and a somewhat less finite set of your own personal take on things (head-canon). The professor argued that it was merely taking on the voice of other creators and not exploring my own.

But how are you supposed to figure out what your voice is if you don’t have meaningful examples? The course did attempt to provide some, but none I really clicked with. And I’m saying that as someone who read Grapes of Wrath in high school and couldn’t stop writing like Steinbeck for weeks. I didn’t even like that book.

For me, the iconic example is Douglas Adams — because I spent so much time writing Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fanfiction. For a while, I had the Adams voice down pat, and that time it was intentional. I’m still not able to articulate what my own voice is, but I wouldn’t exactly be able to describe his either. It’s not something you define, it’s something you feel. Rhythm, content, it all blurs together into this thing that you kind of only identify from a distance, as an afterthought.

You know what I think? I think your own style is something you’re so intimately familiar with that it’s like… the taste in your mouth when you’re not tasting anything. It’s like the air you breath. It’s like water to a fish. Part of why I’ve come to this conclusion is because, if you try to think too hard about “sounding like yourself,” you overthink how to start the next story or the next scene, and you either end up staring at the blank space or forcing out some crap that you don’t really like.

oeu·vre
noun
the works of a painter, composer, or author regarded collectively.
“the complete oeuvre of Mozart”

So maybe your voice just is what it is, and only your readers can properly identify it because they have the necessary distance, the necessary perspective, and usually a fair amount of time to absorb a selection of your work. You can only know your voice when someone else hears it, and tells you what it sounds like.

3 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge — Voice

  1. I don’t know. I have a pretty good sense of my own writing voice. Humorous, no matter how black the subject. Intelligently written. I expect an broadish understanding of the world. (I once had a beta reader asked me what marzipan was!) And my books/stories always make you think they are one thing until you are done and then realize something entirely different was happening under the waves the entire time.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. um….vodka, lots of vodka.
        I don’t know. I think it’s from talking about my books. People would ask questions and I would find myself saying, it’s kind of a romance, but really under neath it all it’s about…or it’s a bio terror spy novel but also there’s this under current of….

        Like

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