Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What the heck is voice?

The Top Ten's second chapters are posted at Mills & Boon's New Voices Web site. Congratulations and good luck to you all.  Remember, read those chapters and cast your ONE vote. I know... ONE vote. Arg! I've said it somewhere all ready, but it's a bit like trying to choose a favorite child.
And can I just say, to the rest of us with our first chapters still hanging out at New Voices, we rock, too!
A lot of my friends and family have heard me talk about the New Voices opportunity, and they immediately ask: "What do you mean by voice? What's voice? Do you have a voice? Do I have a voice?"
This is a slap your palm against your forehead moment. "Of course you have a voice," I say in my most authoritative tone because (though I readily admit I don't know what I'm doing most of the time) I find that speaking with conviction makes people take you seriously. Plus, some of the comments on Chapter 1 of "Seducing His Runaway Wife" mentioned liking my voice. Yippee!
They smile and nod with relief and in agreement. "Oh, great. Good. We have voices," their expressions say. "So, what exactly is voice?"
Um. This is where my smile falters.
"Well. Voice is... Well it's... Uh. Voice is..."
This also is a slap your palm against your forehead moment. What the heck is voice?
I've heard voice described as that undefinable something that makes your writing different. Seriously? If it's undefinable, then how do I know I've got a voice OR, better yet, how do I know I have a voice that someone wants to hear?
I read somewhere that voice is the sparkle, the fizzy factor in your writing.
OOOkay. So voice is like, what, champagne? But, doesn't champagne go flat... eventually?
When pressed to define voice, I guess I would just say that voice is a reflection of your personality, your upbringing, your experiences -- all that stuff that makes you, well, uniquely you.
You know how no two people are the same? We think, speak, react, etc., differently to any and all situations. Therein lies the little seed of voice.
How do we make our voices grow?
How do we make our voices bloom?
So, I guess I think of voice as that quality that makes a writer distinctive, different. You'll recognize it. A new plot or twist, a turn of phrase that you've never heard before but wished you'd written, a quirky character, a unique metaphor or analogy that you instantly identify with, and the list goes on and on.
I'm a fan of country-western music AND artist Salvador Dali, but that doesn't make me a freak. It makes me unique. Somewhere, in that weird juxtaposition, is a hint of my voice.
Dare to be different.
That's what the world needs -- more writers who aren't afraid to stand up and stand out.
So, how do you define voice?

Romance is a journey... enjoy the ride.


  1. I think talking about no two people being the same is exactly right on when it comes to voice. It's just like personality. Some people you like, though you have no idea why (same goes for dislike too). And the answer to any writing question is pretty much always to just keep writing and learning.

  2. LOL at slap your forehead moment, Tina.

  3. Nicole: "And the answer to any writing question is pretty much always to just keep writing and learning." Great advice! I get frustrated... a lot! LOL But I've found that if I just keep writing, I can evenutally write myself -- and my story -- out of a funk! :)

  4. Sri: I have many slap my forhead moments. I think I walk around with a permanent bruise! heehee

  5. Tina - great post. Voice is one of those tags bandied around writers blogs and writing courses but rarely has one single definition. Kinda like describing what grace or sensuality is - you know it when you see it but as for finding the precise words to explain it....well that's when we start to ummm and ahhh.

    BTW there should never be any champagne left in the bottle long enough to go flat ;P

  6. Elissa: Thank you! So true... regarding voice and champagne. ;)

  7. Gosh, voice for me is key, if I'm reading or writing. I want to hone it. It has to be compelling for people to want to read more of your writing and to think about it long after they've finished reading it. That's what it means for me right now. ;)

    PS: I'll definitely pop over and check out the second chapters too...maybe need a glass of vino to read by.

  8. What's always fascianted me is the difference between a piece of writing that is true to a writer's voice and one that isn't. It makes all the difference between a good read and a great read!