Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A-Z Challenge...Voice

We've all heard it. We've all read it on countless blogs posted by agents and editors, that key ingredient that pulls a manuscript out of the slushpile and separates itself from all the others.

What is it you ask? Voice.

Simple right? Not exactly. You see though voice is the key to making or breaking a story, it's also the toughest to grasp. I know it's a constant thorn in my side. There's no clear cut way to add voice to your work and no two authors utilize it in the same way. Think of it as your very own fingerprint in the writing world. Which is a good thing. It's like people, if we were all alike this world would be a very boring place.

So how do you find your voice? There is no sure-fire way...but here are a few tips that have helped me.

1. Read-read whatever you can get your hands on. Read the genre you write in. Read outside of your genre. Give yourself the knowledge of what's out there and how your favorite authors use their voice. Then think of your own. It's essential to know what's been done in order to set yourself apart from it.

2. Write-write whatever you're passionate about. Write what you love. Don't lend yourself to writing trends or whatever you think is the "it" topic of the moment. I've found that if I'm not one hundred percent in love with what I'm working on my voice falls flat.

3. Personality-let your personality show. Ultimately that's what voice is. Your own personality shining through your characters. Personality adds the spice and flavor to your writing so don't hold back.

4. Don't be afraid to rake risks!- Writers can't be afraid to put themselves out there. Be terrified, afraid...but then tell yourself this: If you don't try how will you ever know what potential you possess?

Still uncertain? That's okay. Voice is one of those elusive traits that one person will love and another...not so much. This is a subjective business after all.

Here are a few questions to ponder the next time those creative juices start to flow.
*Am I enthusiastic about my topic?
*Does this writing sound like me?
*How do I want my readers to feel?
*Will my story hold a readers attention? Will they want to hear more?

Now its your turn. How do you find your voice? I'd love to know!


LTM said...

OMG those are FANTASTIC questions to ask! Great ones. And you're right--you gotta have voice!

good stuff, Renae~ <3

Kenda said...

This is a subject I keep coming back to, too :-) One tip I came across was to "let go." Relax. Let the words flow. Don't be self-conscious. It all takes practice. And lots of it! Good reminders, thanks...

KerriAnderson77 said...

I found my voice by refusing to follow a trend. When I started querying agents and receiving rejection letter after rejection letter from agents who represented my genre (African-American fiction)I didn't understand. I then started paying attention to what people around me were reading, street-lit and I tried to change my voice to fit the trend. However just as if I were to change my speaking voice to that of a man it didn't sound authentic and I didn't like the way that I sounded. I found my own voice again and decided that I'd use what God gave me and work with it until it works for me.

Dawn Kurtagich said...

Absolutely! Voice is key. I actually really love the voice in my manuscripts and most of the time it bleeds in without my realizing it. Good luck to you all! <3

Lindsay said...

Ooh, I like those questions. I'd love to say I carefully constructed the voice in my MS, but I haven't. I just type and see what comes out most of the time. lol.

Cheree said...

Fantastic post. I loved the points, especially the risks point. You definitely need to take risks to get the most out of the voice.

Voice is often hard, but rewarding when discovered. I tend to just write and see what comes out.

Angela Felsted said...

I think it's under the ratty couch in my living room.

M Pax said...

Write enough and you'll find your voice eventually. I just kept writing. Reading aloud helps find it, too. If you change phrasing around or words when reading, jot the changes down.

Natalie Aguirre said...

This is my total thorn right now. I'm going through my manuscript to be sure I get my character's voices right.

I find audiobooks help in learning different voices for characters.