Monday, February 02, 2009

Voice: Is It Still There?

image When writing a story, there is so much technique and craft to keep in mind, that I try to learn them so well I can “forget” them. I want them to happen automatically.

Jon’s post, Voice Lessons, got me thinking about my voice. (And I love Amy's post on voice today!) Making my voice distinct and different was a priority of mine, but I wonder if I’ve lost my voice. I’ve been more lyrical this year. It matches the mood I’m creating in my books, but I feel like I’ve lost my own special rhythm. My voice used to be much snappier and more energetic, with quick paragraphs and lots of one-liners for accent.

But I panicked and worried I was too different. Now I fear I am too “normal.” (One must always put “normal” in quotation marks, because there is no such thing. ;-)

How do you balance being distinct against the fear of being "too" different?

I need to study my voice and think of it again. It's time to think of lots of things again.

In general, I feel like I need to go back and touch base with all the basics and make sure they’re still there. I hope they’re happening automatically, but who knows?

What have you learned so well that you haven’t thought imageabout in awhile, but you’re trusting is happening anyway? What are you keeping in mind right now? How are you trying to grow as a writer right now?

And speaking of voice, how different do you dare go? How do you balance being different with not being too different?

PS: Zoe Winters is a semi-finalist in a fiction contest! Please go vote here!

20 bonus scribbles:

Merry Monteleone 2/03/2009 12:54:00 AM  

So timely, Spy!

I'm wrestling a bit with this one. I think the WIP I'm working on is the most powerful writing I've ever done - but it's not in my usual writing voice. I'm not sure how well that plays, yet. It's in third person close pov, but there is a subtle narrator there and the voice is closer to my speaking voice than my written one - it's not so far over as to be dialect, but there's a subtle catch to it, in my ear I can hear him...

I'm not sure if it's an evolution of my voice or if it's completely because I have this separate voice who works better to tell this story. Or maybe it's just crap, but it's fun in either event.

Right now I'm more concerned with the overall story arc and plotlines than I am with the mechanics... that may, likely will, change in subsequent revisions.

Edie 2/03/2009 01:43:00 AM  

Spy, I don't think you'll have to worry about being too "normal."

I think right from the the beginning I did dialogue well. I never struggled with voice, either. Tension and maybe pacing are my problem areas.

Robin 2/03/2009 09:55:00 AM  

I'm too much of a newbie novelist to even worry about voice. I fear that my voice is very close to, well - just me. Pretty boring (but easy).

Melanie Avila 2/03/2009 10:12:00 AM  

I second Edie. I don't think you need to worry about that.

I don't really put a lot of thought into voice - I just write the story as it comes out of me. Like Robin, I feel too new at this to try and say I have a method. Yeah right. While writing the Other Side, I did have to keep reminding myself that my MC was a 19yo male, so I had to cut back on the chit-chat and not make him too neurotic. :) But voice? I don't really know how to control that.

Susan Helene Gottfried 2/03/2009 10:59:00 AM  

You said: How do you balance being distinct against the fear of being "too" different?

My answer: I don't give a shit. That's the exact reason why Trevor hasn't found a home in New York. And to be honest, I'm a lot happier for that, too.

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 11:08:00 AM  

Merry, that's wonderful! I'm on a plotlines/story arc kick, too. Which is why I'm suddenly freaking out about how many mechanics "balls" I'm dropping, LOL!

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 11:09:00 AM  

LOL, Edie, really? I'm blushing. :-) From the tiny bit I've read, I love your voice!

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 11:10:00 AM  

Robin, ohmigawd, don't touch your voice! It rocks! :-) Some of us have more trouble than others in being ourselves, LOL.

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 11:13:00 AM  

LOL, Melanie. I still don't have a method, and I've written at least 18 or so books. I never stop hoping, though! :-)

I didn't realize he was only 19. That's a cool age to play with! All that angst, all that needing to "play it cool," and all that incredible idealism, LOL!

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 11:14:00 AM  

LOL, Susan. You know, I promised myself I would just focus on being different this year. You reminded me. So no more giving a shit! I promised myself!

Zoe Winters 2/03/2009 12:31:00 PM  

Thanks for the shout-out, Spy!

I'm in close communication with Santa Claus and he's been notified to put you on the nice list this year. :D

Avery DeBow 2/03/2009 01:30:00 PM  

I have to agree with Susan (rock on, sister!). Be you, write you, and you'll find the audience you need. Try too hard, and you'll find no one.

I found that in a fortune cookie. ;)

Melanie Avila 2/03/2009 03:49:00 PM  

Spy, his age is one thing I made clearer in the draft after you read it. Another reader picked up on his age somewhere in the middle of the book and felt like it needed to be near the beginning. Now it is. :)

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 05:43:00 PM  

Oh, Zoe, thank you! I'll give it to Glenn, because I got my Kindle. I can't think of a single thing I want, except for a baby.

Wouldn't mind some money, LOL!

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 05:43:00 PM  

Avery, I love those fortune cookie wisdoms. And they are so true! You're totally right!

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 05:45:00 PM  

Oh cool, Melanie! I really love that book. It is really special. I can see myself picking it up from the front table of Borders and petting it before I buy it!

Amy Nathan 2/03/2009 07:35:00 PM  

As you know, voice is subjective like everything else. And maybe writers get laryngitis where we lose our voice for while. We have to rest and then it comes back the same, or better, or stronger.

I overthink everything but when I let my characters keeps the reigns their voices come through.

spyscribbler 2/03/2009 08:03:00 PM  

Hah! Amy, I love that analogy! Man, you are good. Writer's laryngitis: that is perfect!

Letting the character's keep the reigns: I have to try thinking of it that way!

Charles Gramlich 2/03/2009 08:35:00 PM  

Sometimes when I'm trying out new or relatively unfamiliar techniques I can see them in the text, like seeing the brush strokes in a canvas. Usually another go through or two smooths out the welds.

Jenna 2/04/2009 08:09:00 PM  

I second you on learning the craft so well the fundamentals become automatic. Well said, Spy.

I don't think I've learned anything well enough for it to be automatic and I think that's why studying the craft feels just as important as butt-in-chair writing does.

So, I hear you on getting back to the studying...I've been on that same kick lately. I think studying the craft is what separates the good writers from the great writers.

And right now, voice is front and center for me as is perfecting scenes (I've been studying Scenes and Sequels).

I really want my voice to stand out. I do want to be known for a unique voice so I wonder can you really be too different?