Time for another installment of “What I learned at SCBWI.” This one is about Voice. You know, the thing agents and editors scream for. The elusive thing that makes our story come to life in a very special way.
I really liked Eve Adler’s definition of voice. She called it that undeniable emotional pull of a story that expresses content, mood, and the personality of your characters and your writing.
Pretty much sums it up in my mind. All of the editors agreed that without voice, the story winds up in the slush pile. Because voice is something they can’t fix. It is unique to the author.
So how do you create voice?
All of the things we mentioned yesterday factor into voice – tight writing, character development, authenticity, structure – all of it can equal voice.
Voice is the way you tell your story – the POV you choose, the way you string words together. It should reflect both the narrator of the story, and the unique style of the author. For example, I write in a staccato manner with many of my stories. But I am cautious to make sure that style does not distract from my narrator’s voice. If he/she is less choppy in their thinking/speaking, then I relax that style of writing to match the voice of the character. In this way, my stories don’t sound like replicas of each other. Each one is unique based on the characters in the story itself. At the same time, they are familiar, comfortable. My structure – that part of the author’s voice that comes through any story – is still there.
Hopefully I didn’t make this even more confusing!
Bottom line –
Write. A Lot. In doing that you will figure out both your unique style of writing as an author (your voice) and the unique tone of your characters (their voice). Put those into your story in an authentic way, and everything else will fall into place.
As Eve said when quoting Maxwell Perkins:
“Just get it down on paper, and then we’ll see what to do with it.”
What do you guys think? Any different definitions of voice out there?
Tomorrow….plot revisited. And later, how to write a very short synopsis.