Wednesday, June 8, 2011

VOICE by Joyce Hart

The writer’s voice – what exactly is it?

According to WIKI it is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author.

Our advice to authors is to “find your voice.” We want editors to edit the work without changing “the voice” of the author. Your voice is a part of you, as we have different speaking voices, so each author has his/her own voice when they write.

Several of my clients write historical novels, Jane Kirkpatrick, Dorothy Clark, Lena Nelson Dooley and Amanda Cabot are some of the authors. Jane writes with a literary voice, very unique, very “Jane.” She writes stories about real women who are facing impossible odds. These are strong women, who with the help of God and other people in their lives come through victoriously, not always as they might has wished but in the end they are stronger and wiser. Dorothy writes what God tells her to write. She is empathic about this. When I read her books, I feel like I’m right there on the frontier, crossing those mountains or living in a mid-west city, battling against impossible odds, but making it over those mountains or learning to run a company. There is always romance in Dorothy’s stories. Lena, a Texan, writes wonderful stories of love and adventure in the old west, a relationship that might begin as a mail order bride and yet becomes real love that prevails against all the problems that these couples come up against. Amanda Cabot’s current series is set in the Texas Hill Country. She writes of a community that is half French and half German. Here we have characters from the east merging with characters from this western town. Anguish and sorrow are met with sometimes doubting God and yet in the end trusting Him. Why does God allow such hurt in their lives the characters sometimes might wonder? Again, Amanda’s books are written in her own individual style, gained from her own background and life experience. That is where the author’s “voice” comes from. Each of these ladies has her own unique personality and writes in her own unique style or “voice.”

Susanne Woods Fishers writes in the voice of the Amish. She transports us to Lancaster County in her current Amish romance series, introducing us to delightful men and women of the Amish community. She travels to Pennsylvania and Ohio to make sure she captures the authentic voice of the Amish.

I need to point out that all of these authors research carefully to make sure the historical or contemporary facts are correct.

These are only a few examples. A good voice needs to have consistency and authority. You cannot duplicate another author’s voice. Your author’s voice is an integral part of who you are as a person. You need to be true to your own voice and not try to write like someone else. Yes, we can compare books with other authors, but your “voice” is your very own.


Davalynn Spencer said...

How true, how true. Sometimes I find myself battling to keep hold of that voice consistency, especially if I'm reading a novel while trying to write one of my own. Recently I've decided that's not such a good idea. On the other hand, as a columnist I have a distinctive voice which is not necessarily the same one I want to use in my current middle-grade novel. At times, the on-off switch is hard to find.

. said...

This I think is definately hard for every writer. I haven't been writing long but I'm still trying to find my voice in the writing world. Great tips. Thanks for sharing this!

Caroline said...

I have to remind myself not to compare my writing voice to another's or try to mold mine into someone else's style. There's a place here for beautiful, image-filled writing, a place for instructive writing, and a place for conversational writing. I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 12 - we're all different, unique members of one body!

Pat Iacuzzi said...

Hi Joyce--
I'm a member of ACFW, and a "lurker"--This particular post really resonated with me. Raised in the Mohawk Valley/Adirondack Mt. region of N.Y., I was raised with the colonial history--and language--of the area. Many of the terms are still used today, and I hope they enrich my writing. Thanks for the encouragement in finding our own voices.