Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Voice Within

When I first started writing in my teen years, I used to share my stories with my friends. Then, when I discovered the wide world of fan fiction, I started writing stories with TV show characters. My stories were action packed, filled with emotion, and riddled with erotic sex scenes. When I started posting my stories online, I really thought my readers will be all teens, just like me. After all, what adult would want to read something my little ol’ me?

After I posted a few stories, most of the response came from adults. Married housewives commented on the sex scenes. One actually claimed that although she’s a mother of three and has had plenty of sex in her life, she’s never had sex that hot. My story made her blush.

Pretty good for a virgin, as I was a virgin when I wrote that story.

Besides the love scenes thought, I had plenty reviews and emails commenting on my voice. Readers loved it.

I always wondered what the heck is the voice? How can they know my voice if they’ve never heard me speak? And really, my (speaking) voice grates on my own nerves, it’s so nasal (from sinus issues) it sounds like a mix between Britney Spears and Fran Dresser. Really, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. I can’t believe that at some point in my life I wanted to be a singer, and actually had friends who deluded me into thinking that I could make it in the industry.

Anyway, I always thought it was a fan fiction thing. That fan fic readers cared about the “voice” while it wouldn’t be important in real publishing.

Now I’m in real publishing, and I keep seeing editors and publishers constantly comment on their blogs about how they’re looking for that unique voice.  I recently had an editor friend of mine tell me that the number one rule for all editors is not to compromise the author’s voice while editing. She said the voice is very important.

But the question still remains, what is the voice? Am I the only one who has no clue? What would you describe the “voice” as? Please be specific and give examples if you can.

Talking about voice, I’ll leave you with this song that’s been playing on my mind all morning.  “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera.


  1. I recently did a post on voice if you look in my archives... V for Voice. There's a link to another blogger who put it perfectly. Voice is how you choose to word something. Do you say the guy looked at you funny? Or do you say the guy looked at you like he could see your purple panties thru your clothes? The difference is the voice.

  2. Voice? Hmmm, I guess I've always thought of voice as our own unique way of writing. Like a fingerprint, everyone is slightly different in how they write. While one writer might focus more on how the setting interacts with a character (and may always write exotic sci-fi scenery) another may focus on the differences between species in that same setting.

  3. Oh, wow! Do you think you could've asked a harder question? LOL.

    My definition of a writing voice is that element that makes us recognizable. For instance Nora Robert's voice is different from Suzanne Brockman. It's a style that defines us.

  4. A mix of Britney Spears and Fran Drescher? Bwa ha ha! I like what Pk, D.F., and Maria had to say about voice. I think it's our personality that shines through our writing. When a friend read my first novel and said "I could totally hear you saying that" for my female character's line, I think that's example of my voice shining through the character.

  5. I hate my real voice too! And I do a lot of public speaking! When I used to take a dog on the news, I would cringe watching the playback because I was all nasal and fingernails on chalkboards!

    Voice is really hard to explain. Or maybe I just find it hard to explain, but our voice comes out in our blogposts or our comments. You can hear my voice when you read my comments because you're so used to my style of writing. When I read my friend's query letter a few weeks ago, I could have picked it out of a pile because I could so clearly hear her writing style in it - the dry humor bleeding through the perfectly formed sentences. I know, I don't explain it any better than anyone.

  6. Voice gives writing its soul. It's what makes the characters seem real. I know that sounds ambiguous. But just like everybody's real voices sound different, so do their writing voices.

  7. Hi Angelina,
    Voice in your writing is the type of words you use, the way you would say something. I might write, "I love flowers, they are beautiful." You might write. "I love flowers, the way they seem to breathe when they open, and sigh when they close." See the difference, although they may be lame examples.

    I've never used cliches in my writing, and of late have found new ways to say something, the way I see things in my mind and write is different to what you may see and write.

    I critiqued someone's manuscript years ago... I said I didn't like a particular sentence.
    'She minded the roses as she walked down the track.'
    I wouldn't write it that way as to me it didn't make sense...but it was her style, the way she writes.

    I would write, 'She escaped the thorny rose bushes as she strolled down the winding pathway.'

    Write how you talk, not to impress, or with big words.

    I hope this helps. Perhpas I'll put a paragraph up on my blog, and get people to write it their way. :)

  8. Roni Loren did a great post on author voice vs. character voice. Check it out:

    Voice is so hard to pin down. I'm still trying!