Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is Your Voice Shouting?


Are you stylish? I'm not talking about what's in your closet, but about your narrative style. In Donald Maass's book, The Fire In Fiction, he writes about the importance of a writer's voice - how you tell your tale. He points out different ways to make your voice "shout out".

GIVING CHARACTERS VOICE - This doesn't mean just taking their dialogue and dialect and making it different, but it means their outlook...their take on life. You need characters who have a unique way of looking at things, without becoming cartoonish. Their opinions need to be heard, however different it is from the norm. Sometimes we make our characters "safe", when we really should let them be real.

DETAILS AND DELIVERY - Maass asks why we avoid making a hero really different. He says, "Even the most ordinary people have a life that's unique. The details that make it so are a secret source of what critics glibly refer to as voice." Details are important. They give a story life and a voice. The way you state things, or the way your character speaks, gives your story its voice. It can be through syntax and/or details of what they say, do, or feel.

DIFFERENT WAYS OF RELATING STORY - Writers need to choose beforehand which POV and which tense to write from. There's no right or wrong way, but whatever you choose, you need to go deep into it. Make the character real, flaws and all.

I think VOICE is such an elusive thing. While I don't think your voice can be manipulated, I think Maass has some good suggestions for making your voice come through loud and clear. His ideas give a spring board to amplify your writing and letting you ....the real you...be heard.

It's not just the words that make a writer's voice unique. It's all the little things like details, delivery, outlook, original perspective, opinions, etc, that make an author's voice shout out.

I haven't found my voice yet. Not sure how I would go about finding it, other than just writing alot. I still feel like I am just getting started in this journey. I feel I am still whispering...afraid to speak up.

Do you think you have found your voice? Is it shouting yet?

*Reposted from a 2009 post on Sherrinda's personal blog.

*****************************************************************************
This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is wife to "Pastor John" and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.

19 comments:

Freya Morris said...

Great post Sherrinda! Brilliant tips brought together.

Joanne Sher said...

VERY good thoughts, Sherrinda. Not sure I've found my voice either - but I'm getting closer. Thanks!

Pepper said...

HEY SHERRINDA!!!!!
(that's me shouting in cyberspeak ;-)

Ooo, Voice is elusive. I've been told I have a unique one, but I still am not sure how it happened :-)

And just over the past two years I've been trying to pay close attention to making the voices of my characters unique. Sometimes it's happened automatically - as I've fallen in love with my stories, but other times I've had to step back and delve into some deep 'character searching' to develop unique voices.

Great reminders, Sherrinda

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love this post. I think I'm starting to discover my voice, but I have a long way to go before it is shouting. Now I really want to read this book, Maas is a great teacher.

Bonnee Crawford said...

I think I have a voice, I'm just not sure how to describe it or use it just yet, and perhaps that's because it's still developing. But I understand that it is a very important thing for writer's to have, especially when they are writing.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hey Sherrinda,

Voice is the most elusive thing to talk about and to find! I have been writing contemporary until November when I spewed out an historical in 5 weeks. My critique partner was so enthusiastic, saying that I'd found my voice.

I scratched my head: "Really?"

Sometimes I think our readers see our voice better than we do.

Still trying to figure it out!!

Love the tips about giving the characters their own unique voice. That is sometimes tricky. It's easier with the quirky secondary characters, I find.

Cheers,
Sue

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I love posts about voice because everyone always has a different take, and there's always something helpful to take away from them.

Fire in Fiction really got me thinking more about unique characters and how to use them to showcase my voice. I think I "hid" my voice for a long time because I was just trying to write like everyone else. Do it the "right" way. But I finally just started writing what came to mind when I typed, how I would normally talk or think, and it really helped me to give my characters more life.

Still working on it, though! :)

Mary Vee said...

Sherrinda,
I love your new pic
and Susan I so agree with you that our readers know things about us, the writer, before we do. What a super crit partner.
My problem is keeping my "voice" out of my character's dialogue. All a process.

Beth K. Vogt said...

I know I had found my voice over in the non-fiction section of the writing world. And I think it followed me over to the Dark Side of the writing world -- to a certain extent. That said, I still have to ensure that my characters each have their own distinct voice -- and that's challenging!
One thing that has helped me "train" my voice? Blogging. I've become more and more comfortable with who I am and how I write ... and it shows up in my blog & in my comments at others' blogs -- and even in my WIPs.

Jeanne T said...

Thanks for sharing these tips, Sherrinda. I need to refer back to this one. :)

I think I'm still discovering my voice, kind of whispering and holding back a little bit. Working to overcome that, though. :)

Love the new pic!

Sherrinda said...

@Freya - thanks! I hope it was helpful.

@Joanne - Ongoing writing is what will give us our voice, so keep at it. It will appear!

Sherrinda said...

PEPPER!!!!!!!!!!!! You are so funny! I wonder if our voice shouts when we really are "into" the story. You know, immersed completely into the storyworld and getting "into" character. :)

Julia, Maas's books are always a must. He's definitely a good teacher.

Sherrinda said...

Bonnee, personally I believe that we all have a unique voice that sometimes whispers and sometimes shouts. It may even ebb and flow within the story itself. :)

Sue!!! So you are writing historical now? ;) Do you find that you enjoy it, or do you prefer contemporaries?

Sherrinda said...

Cindy, I bet your voice is goooood! Don't you think it's easier to relax and "feel" the character and let his/her voice shout out? I think fear or paying attention to rules stiffles our voice to a point. I don't know...just my take.

Sherrinda said...

Mary, now that is an interesting thing to say, Mary. You have trouble keeping your own voice out of your characters? Now, I would think having some of your voice in is what gives your writing a voice! Hhhhmmm....

Sherrinda said...

Beth! I love that you think blogging has helped you find your voice. I hadn't thought about it before, but I feel like it has really helped me too. There is something freeing in blogging that you don't get while writing.

Thanks for the great insight, Beth!

Sherrinda said...

Jeanne T, it is time to do some shouting! Let it out, girl! :)

Keli Gwyn said...

First off, that is such a great picture of you at the bottom of the post, Sherrinda. Love it. Love you!

I didn't find my voice. It found me. What I mean is that when I stopped searching for my voice and just wrote my stories, it emerged all on its own. It wasn't what I expected, so that explains why my search was futile. I was trying to force my voice instead of letting it flow freely.

What's really cool for me is that the first endorsements for my debut novel have started coming in, and I'm seeing how others describe my work and my voice. Their kind words have confirmed what I hoped were my strengths. Talk about a neat experience. I look forward to the day you and the other Alley Cats and Alley visitors are going through it. =)

Eric Benoit said...

Well done, except..."a lot" not "alot".