Or does it blend in with the choir.
Voice can easily take a good book and make it memorable.
Or lack of attention to voice can make a well-plotted novel seem humdrum.
I recently listened to Kaye Dacus' workshop on Voice from ACFW's 2010 conference. Dacus lamented the fact that much of CBA fiction is beginning to sound the same. Sure, we've followed all the rules to a tee. But perhaps the cost has been too high, as in some cases we are losing our voice, our very distinctiveness. It is an excellent CD I can highly recommend.
(Oh and by the way, if you haven't done so, be sure to read Kaye's Writing Series Index. Its chock-full of great writing advice on nearly every topic imaginable).
I had recently finished a book that had disappointed me. The writer had seemed to follow many of the rules we have learned about through countless writing books. Keep it fast-paced. Avoid passive voice. No adverbs. Show, don't tell.
I talked to my husband and finally found out what was troubling me. There was nothing that made this book unique. This book could have been written by anyone in my mind.
Recently I read another book by an author, Chris Fabry, who I think of as an armchair author for me. After reading several of his books I feel like I'm getting to know his voice as a writer and there's a comfort in that.
Another author I have recently read is Ginger Garrett. Her genre and style of writing are quite different from Chris', but she has a distinctive voice of her own that I love reading. Garrett is a storyteller who serves as a familiar travelogue on journeys through biblical lands, or early American history. She immediately captures my attention.
Another favorite of mine for voice is Laura Frantz. She is one of the rare historical fiction authors who has mastered the voice of the time period she writes in. Her beautiful prose is old-fashioned in a way that uniquely distinguishes her.
A common MFA in Creative Writing exercise I'm told is to imitate your favorite authors' styles. While I have no doubt there is value in this exercise...let's remember we're not called to be the next Willa Cather, L.M. Montgomery, or whoever else it is we admire.
Let's not forget that we can offer what no one else can...our voice.
Who are your favorite authors when it comes to voice? How would you describe their voice? Or how would you describe your own voice?