Comments from my editor during first edit of my latest manuscript contracted for publication led to some deep self reflection this week . Comments like ‘old fashioned word-replace’ made me think about the difference between author voice and the way we write our characters’ dialogue.
On a fresh read through, it quickly became obvious that one of my characters was speaking with my voice, rather than using the words gained through her life experiences and I had a bad case of author intrusion!
Where does our author voice come from? How often do we hear that publishers, agents and editors are seeking that new voice? What is voice? How is it defined? Indeed a recent competition I entered was even called New Voices competition!
Hmm... many questions.
For me, voice in reading, writing and editing is the perspective from which an author writes. It is an outlook on life and the world combined with a stylistic delivery that makes that voice unique. One definition I read defined author voice as the author's attitude, personality, and character.
I find myself disagreeing with this. If that was the case wouldn’t all of our characters be too similar?
Where do our characters personalities and attributes come from?We know that characters use words that the writer is familiar with. A character cannot use a word without it coming first through the writer! So how does a writer give a character the words to suit their personality without using their own voice? The writer must actively choose the words that best fit their character, their sex and age, the genre, the type of action, the scene, the tone of the story, and the impact the writer is aiming for.
So on reflection... my female university researcher no longer said. “That would be lovely.” as I am known to say. She now replies. “That’s great!” And the interaction between the characters was much stronger from that small change.
What do you think? What do you think makes for a good voice? Why do you enjoy some writers more than others? Leave me a comment...