The voice

I have a story that is itching for me to start editing it.  I am purposefully ignoring that itch.  I wrote it last week after a flurry of research on Norther Native tribes.  It was supposed to be something else, but the voice of the story demanded something a little more complex than a simple rite of spring.  Instead of a bit of erotica, it turned darker into a glimpse of the death of a world.  I am letting the story sit on purpose.  It needs some work.  I need to dig a little deeper into what is going on before I edit it.  I want to wait until that voice sternly tells me what to do.

For some, this might seem a bit confusing.  Isn’t story about plot, setting and character, not the voice?  Well, in some respects it is; some respects it isn’t.   Plot, setting and character are what makes a story but the voice and tone are what attracts a reader to want more of your writing.  Voice and tone are the more individual points of writing.

Take a segment out of any of your favorite authors and read how they use words.  Even in similar passages, each author will write differently.  Some use shorter sentences, others will wind words around several lines.  Adverbs, adjectives and phrases are used differently.  Even how an author describes a character will be different.   This is an author’s voice.

As a writer it is important to recognize this voice and to nurture it.  It takes a while to realize that your voice is this cadence of words and stream of lines, but eventually it starts talking to you.  It takes your ideas, your characters your settings and tells you what to put on a page.  It shows you how to put things together and take them apart.

In other news, the Shock Totem challenge was a great success.  Congratulations to Steven Pirie for first place, dgrintalis27 for second and sophieplayle 23 for third. Great job to everyone who submitted a story and critiqued.  I must say that writing critiques, even just a few lines, for 30 stories gives you an idea of what a slush reader sees.  The critiques are very useful for all of us.  Myself I am going to do some picking apart of my own and other stories this weekend.

As I said above, I am leaving one story to set for a bit, but I have several other shorts to work on.   One for Crossed Genres for an Eastern (meaning Oriental) story, and maybe something for the Jim Baen writing contest this weekend.  I know I am cutting it close with both of those deadlines, but I don’t have the kids this week and I hope I can pull something off.

Another great idea from the people of Crossed Genres has even my boys excited is the Science in My Fiction contest.  I am going to narrow down some ideas in the next two weeks and give the boys a chance to help me with a story.  My oldest had stars in his eyes when we watched the quick video of the challenge.  He immediately fired off several ideas.  My youngest was countering with ideas of his own.  I might have to pick two. 🙂


9 responses to “The voice

  1. Shadow, this is a great post and one I do understand! I’m still in the learning phases of trusting the voice and getting comfortable with the revisions. It’s something I’m right on the cusp of, I can see it, but I”m not there quite yet. Maybe I’ll take a little cue from you! It may just give me a slight push… 😀

    happy writing


  2. 1) All writers have a voice.
    2) A good writer will learn to identify the nuances of their voice and then accentuate and capitalize on it .
    3)The best writers, however, will realize that a voice is connected to the story and not to the writer, and will adopt an appropriate voice for each piece they write.

    I’m just now beginning to understand that myself. I think it helps if you take yourself out of the equation as a writer. With each story, imagine someone telling it to you: Find the person best suited to tell the tale: A bitter old man, a single mom with no education, an escaped convict, a college professor…

    Hear their voice in your head, And then write down what you hear. Let THEM choose the words for you.


    • LoL Is that not what I usually do?

      Then I have to go back and figure out where the plot it. I just have to get that voice and the plot to work together. This time it did. I am a bit more conscious of it, but still have a bit to go.


  3. I love the Shock Totem competition – how often do you get thirtish critiques of your story. Fantastic. My voice seems rather interested in men in pinstriped suits and things that are yellow.


    • Yes I love it too. I plan to participate in every month that I am able. It does not take long to write some flash, although the editing part SHOULD take a bit longer.

      As to the pinstriped suits and things that are yellow, go with it and see where it leads! Good luck!


  4. There is the writer’s voice and the character/narrative voice. Two distinctly different things. Each story has its own narrative voice, as another poster above mentioned. The writer’s voice is something that, when you read it, no matter the characters and narrative, you know who it is. Neither author, or narrative, should feel intrusive or take over. As with all things in writing and in life, there’s a balance.

    Great post, Shadow.


  5. Good post!

    I agree with Effie on the writer’s voice/narrative voice. The writer’s voice defines itself over time and many words. I don’t believe it’s something a writer actively creates; it’s an organic process. The narrative voice will change with each story and character set.


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