books · editing · tips · writing

Who Are You and What Do You Want From Me?

Voice means everything. Voice is what makes my writing different from all others that you read. Give me a topic and you may someday find someone who comes up with the same sentence as me, but it wouldn’t be easy. My life experience, reading, education, and aptitude form my voice. While it will most likely never completely change, it will grow and mature as I write. That is why we improve with each novel, story, poem, song or whatever we write. Your voice will change along with your life.

Take, for example, the title of my post: Who are you and what do you want from me? That is something I want to know, but it isn’t how I would personally ask it. I would say; I would like to know who my readers are and what they would like to see from me? It is the same topic, wrapped in a different package. Though it isn’t only a distinct way of saying things, it is a new perspective in addition to that new way of putting the words to paper. It’s what distinctly makes me who I am both as a person and on paper.

What can you do if you you’re voice isn’t what agents are looking for? As I said, your voice will (most likely) remain similar to what it is now, but there are ways you can improve. You can improve your voice by reading. Read books that challenge you, especially classics. Classic novels seem to force our brains to work harder linguistically. It never hurts to be well-read, either. The other choice is, of course, to take the chance that your voice will be appreciated as-is by the masses and take the self-publishing route.

Another way to improve your voice is through journaling. You can do this in a number of ways, you can journal about your own experiences, paying close attention to the action of everyday life. How could you make your own life interesting enough to keep a reader engaged? Another way is to create an emotion journal. When you experience an emotion, make it a point to write down your exact feelings, your actions, your bodily reactions (heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing, tremors, etc.). In this way, when one of your characters experiences that emotion it is as easy as looking in your journal to make the scene come to life.

By developing your voice, encouraging your brain to think expressively, your writing will improve. It isn’t about adding more adjectives. In fact, it is about saying what you can as concisely as possible while still conveying exactly what you mean. Keep writing, follow your path.

I’ve said throughout this short passage that probably your voice won’t change. Sometimes our lives are altered and we are hit with trauma. When that happens, our perspective can change dramatically, and it can change your voice. It has happened where an author begins a series which takes many years to complete whose final books don’t even sound like they were written by the same author at the end of the series. When that happens, people who loved the series from the start may feel indignant at the end, and those who love the later ones probably wonder what happened in the beginning. I wouldn’t wish this type of change on anyone, but it can and does happen.

I have yet to have any comments either positive or negative about my voice so I’d love to hear from you. Have you submitted to anyone or received any comments on your voice?

2 thoughts on “Who Are You and What Do You Want From Me?

  1. I think voice is often defined by choices in vocabulary and sentence structure. As an avid reader, I imagine your vocabulary is quite advanced, but I don’t have to read your writing with a dictionary at my side. I enjoy doing that when reading the classics, but for some readers it can get frustrating, especially for those short on time, like most modern readers. So even from a business standpoint, I think that will serve you well. I can see how writers of the classics used much lengthier sentences than most do now, including yourself, but sentences don’t have to be lengthy to convey high concepts. And once again, with the emphasis these days on keeping down word count, that will serve you well, with traditional publishers. I am really glad you’ve gone with self-publishing for now though. One reason why is because I’ve never been to the Midwest. For me, anytime you embellish on your setting, and how your characters would have interacted with it during that time period, will be a plus, even if it does go beyond the word count a traditional publisher would have allowed. I look forward to reading your books to experience your sense of ‘place’ as much as the plot. As for my own voice, I don’t think I’ve written enough for anyone to see a pattern to it, including myself. I do love living in the south and I am fascinated with all of the phrases locals use that may be common to the south but not the north. I never get tired of them, and I think some readers who’ve moved away from here may enjoy hearing them again, but others may say I include too many cliches. I hope choosing Southern Fiction as my genre will give me more freedom to highlight those things, though, on purpose. And I find it hard to write in a literary style for long, so I end up interjecting more humor than some. Beyond that, I don’t know…

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    1. I have only read the few things you’ve posted in our NaNo chat, but you definitely have a voice all your own. It flows like a pleasant river carrying the reader along at a luxurious pace. Your words are comforting and come across as smooth and inviting.


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