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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Quest for Voice

Ah yet another post born of the 2014 League of Utah Writers Conference. Nathan Croft, fantasy author, presented on voice, so I must give him credit for most of these tips and definitions.

So, what is voice? 

VOICE: the sum total of the author + their novel. It encompasses everything: the story, the writing, and all things that are a part of the novel. 

Don't confuse this with tone. TONE is the feel or emotion of your story. The tone is part of the voice--they go hand in hand--but not exactly the same thing. 

*Voice cannot be forced, but it is definitely something that is found.* 

The awesome thing is that voice will always be unique. Even if you're trying to imitate another author, you won't be able to mimic their voice. Their technique, yes. Elements of their style, sure. Their plot/characters, let's hope not. But even if I were to try to re-write The Fellowship of the Ring, I'm me and not J.R.R. Tolkien, so the voice would still be unique to me, as his was to him. 

That's sort of awesome.

Tips for developing voice:

1) Analyze your own voice to learn about yourself as a writer.

2) Develop a soundtrack for your novel, scene, or character to help get you in the right mood and frame of mind before you write.

3) Compare voice and tone to other authors/stories/books/characters/etc. By analyzing the work of others, you will learn about your own voice, as well as what you do or do not want.

4) Identify what you don't want in your book. Especially for voice, it's almost as important as what you do want.

5) Read it out loud to determine how it sounds to other people

6) If you're breaking rules (tense, etc.), analyze what rules you're breaking and why. Is it worth it? Is it accomplishing what you intend?

7) Identify your limits and push them, but don't run faster than you're able. Let your voice develop slowly over time.

8) Themes. Identify a handful of overall themes for your book. Work them subtly into your voice.

*A woodsman who sharpens his tool will cut down more trees than one that never stops to sharpen his.*

Voice is an immensely personal thing and only a writer can find, hone, and truly know their own voice. It will change and develop over time, and is one of the most essential elements of good writing.

No pressure, or anything. :D

What do you do to help develop your writer's voice?

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