Writer’s voice

Query update: Done! After about 20+ versions of my story pitch, I have one I’m happy with. I’ll start submitting tomorrow. And, then I’m going to start my next book. I know which idea I’m going to move on with, and at the same time, I’m going to start researching one of my other ideas. Fun!

Voice always seems like one of those things that’s so necessary for a writer to have but so elusive for a writer to attain. We always read that agents and editors want a “fresh voice.” But what is that?

After much reading and writing, the best description of voice that I’ve come across is this: The same story can be written a million ways, and your voice is the way YOU tell the story.

Writers get their voice by reading and writing. The more we read, the more what we read is reflected in our writing, and the more write, the more our writing is independent of what we read.

Does that make sense? Early on, we are influenced by the books we read, but the more we write, the more we find our own style.

It’s like painters; they try on the styles of the greats that came before them, and as they learn and grow, they develop their own style of painting. That’s their voice, and it’s the same with writers.

On her Kidlit.com blog, Andrea Brown agent Mary Kole has what I think is a great lesson on developing voice. In her latest Workshop Submission, Mary analyses the opening of a book and says:

The number one reason some writers make it and others don’t is voice.

To help this writer with voice, Mary says:

Voice. Here, we get a lot of dry language. It doesn’t have style to it, or attitude. It doesn’t have emotion running like a current through it. Lots of these words lack energy. They seem like they’d belong in a periodical or in a business memo. How can this story be told with more style and careful word choice?

Mary says a lot more, so click over and check it out.

And when you’re reading through your manuscript, look for your own style, your attitude, the emotion in the story and the words you have chosen to convey that emotion. That will be your voice.

What do you do to develop the voice in your work?

Write On!


What do you think?