Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Find Your Voice
A million and one people in the publishing industry will tell you: Make sure you infuse your story with voice. A strong voice is essential.
(Are there a million and one people in the publishing industry? Hmm. Maybe. Don't hold me to it.)
But voice can seem like this elusive pie in the sky that you'll never be able to reach. It did for me at first anyway. Then I realized what I was doing wrong. I was trying so hard to write "well" I wasn't letting my own voice flow. I began to understand that the way I talk is what separates me. It's what makes me original.
Let's face it, no two of us talk the same way. Where I choose the phrase "Thank all that is good and chocolate" you might say a simple "Thank goodness" or "Thank you, sweet chocolate".
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they move as well. If they talk with their hands, have very expressive faces, or if they're stoic and cold. That all lends to voice as well. It's all part of the whole "show don't tell" philosophy.
Without voice, telling: Rapunzel started getting scared. Maybe the Prince wouldn't come to save her.
With voice, showing: Rapunzel's hands began to shake and her breaths came in rapid gasps. She swallowed hard trying to press the lump in her throat down, but the bile was determined to rise. Clasping the ledge of the window to brace herself, Rapunzel looks out on the courtyard, but there's no Prince. Maybe he wasn't coming. Maybe she would be stuck in this tower forever, left to waste away to nothing.
Obviously these are not perfect examples (and make pretty much no sense), but you get the picture. Right?
Is voice something you struggle with in your writing? Or does it come easily for you?
I've found in my own writing that the voice comes with a really strong character. One I fully understand and relate to.