Friday, April 27, 2012

More Thoughts on Voice

On Monday, I posted about how my writing voice changed because of an intense rule-following stage I went through as a writer.

Thinking on this over the week, I realized it might have sounded like I tried to change my writing voice. I didn't.

It also may have sounded like I'd recommend my process to other people. I wouldn't.

Voice is the part of every person's writing that makes it unique. A writing fingerprint.

Like the code breakers who were able to tell movements in the enemy troops by identifying the different ways each operator entered Morse Code, other people may be able to identify elements of different writers' voices, but that doesn't mean voice is something a writer consciously does.

In fact, most of the time, I believe thinking about voice is the last thing a writer should do.

I liked Rebecca's comment from Monday: "When I start to stray, I pretend whatever I'm writing is an email to my best friend--and then my natural voice magically reappears."

She's onto something...voice is something you should tap into, not actively work on.

Voice is also magic. It belongs in that unexplainable part of writing where everything we've internalized from our reading and writing experiences collides with who we are and the story we're trying to tell.

A magic formula that's different for everyone...and if we work on/think about it too much the magic might leave.

What about you? How do you think of voice?


  1. That comment of Rebecca's is really great. I think you're right about voice not being something that you have to really work on it. It should be organic and flow from you naturally, otherwise it just feels try hard and phony. Great post on this topic, Jennifer. :)

  2. Glad you liked my comment! You are absolutely right that if you think about it too much, it becomes elusive. I've also found that if I am reading something with a very distinct voice while I am drafting, sometimes I get confused (with the one I'm creating). So in general, I try to put a buffer between my reading time and my writing time.

  3. I love how different people's processes are.
    my voice comes from my characters - so the hope is that it's a good mix of me and them when I'm writing.
    If I have their "voice" in my head, and in turn my writing voice, that's when i start.
    Now, their voice might not come out until later drafts, BUT that's my starting point.

  4. Voice is that magical thing that happens with a lot of work yet at the same not a lot of work! I remember that rule following stage too.

  5. Agreed. I do find that when I think to hard about my voice, I don't use it. Excellent post!