Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Voice is a hot topic at the moment on one of the forums I belong to. It was mentioned is several of the RNA Conference sessions and back when I attend the Melissa Nathan Comedy Romance Workshop. Every one throws the term around. Every writer seeks to find their unique voice and some writer's have several - if they write different in different genres. So what is Voice? Have you found yours?

I was over at Phillipa Ashley's blog http://phillipa-ashley.com/blog/2007/08/13/the-end-is-in-sight/#comments and she was discussing voice too. It was in writing a reply to her post that I realized that August Rock doesn't really have my voice in it. I pondered why and realized that my internal editor was doing a very heavy handed job. I was wary of kids reading over my shoulder and the thought of my mother reading my work (Dad if you are reading the blog you can smile now). So after rewriting August Rock six times and definitely improving it I know that it doesn't really have my voice. I don't think it is something you can put back in or at least I can't.

When I wrote A Cornish House at the beginning of year, I put the internal editor in a box and wrote without stopping. My voice is there now. I now may have to tone it down but it is there. Have you experienced this?


Biddy said...

I have found this. If I worry about who is reading it I also end up editing out my voice.

Voice is an elusive thing though. Sometimes it can come and go even in a draft of a book.

liz fenwick said...

I think that is why I enjoyed writing A Cornish House so quickly - I didn't let myself dwell. However it means I have a sh.t load of work to do on it to bring it up to a decent standard. How's the writing going?

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I think so, but it's kind of hard to tell. But I think so.

liz fenwick said...

Having read your blog posts, i think you have found your voice Zinnia!

Leatherdykeuk said...

When I'm writing novels, my voice tends to be subjugated by Jasfoup's. I'm just not funny in real life but he is.

Phillipa said...

Liz - are you sure AR doesn't have your voice? Maybe it does, more than you think.

I've got a ms forever shelved that I wrote between Decent Exposure and Wish You Were Here. I loved it when I wrote it but I aimed it at a specific genre and it just wasn't quite 'my' voice. It's never been shown to any publisher and never will. However, I am longing to use the two main characters whom I still love so I don't think it's wasted.

I'm glad you've loved writing A Cornish House.

I wish I knew how you can define voice but i don't think I can!

Biddy said...

The writing is going fast... which means I too have a sh.tload of work to do on it!!
Which reminds me... I should stop reading blogs and watching TV and start writing!

Kate.Kingsley said...

How spooky. Liz ~ I was just thinking about this very issue over the last couple of days!

My problem is, I think, that the current piece is a bit too much my voice ~ and thinking ahead to the potential readership I think (and fear) that there will be a huge assumption that the novel is very thinly disguised autobiography. There are some autobiographical elements, but my central protatgonist is rather unpleasant ~ she's more a case of what I might have become if things had been different, but she's certainly not me. So I'm hoping that will chnage as I get to the second and thrid drafts.

But "voice" is a tricky thing, isn't it? We're always hearing how a writer needs a voice of their own, but how do you know when you've found it?! Maybe it's something a third party such as an editor or agent is better able to spot for us ~ sort of the way your own speaking voice sounds very different in your head to how it sounds to others?

A very interetsing area though ~ I shall think on this more over the next few days,

Best wishes

B.E. Sanderson said...

I've never thought about my voice. I've tried, but everytime I worry about it, I lose what is uniquely 'Me'. My crit partner says she could pick my work out of a line-up, so I must be doing something right. =oD

Jen said...

Perhaps it becomes more difficult to recognise our own voice, the more we write? It's rather like hearing ourselves on the ansaphone and thinking we sound all funny...?

Lisa said...

I've been told my writing voice is unique and I'm not sure how true this is. I do strive to write for one person (I think of the kind of books this person loves -- which are the ones I love to and I imagine his reaction to what I'm writing) and I don't think about anyone else. That balance between the left and right brains is very tricky for me though. It seems the more the editor gets pulled into the process, the less distinctive the writing becomes. If anyone ever figures out how to balance free flowing creativity with common sense structuring, editing and revision, please tell me how you do it!

Sally Lawton said...

Hi Liz,
Just wanted to say thanks for the link to the Melissa Nathan post, just what I wanted to read, very inspiring. Thanks so much.