Defining Author Voice


Photo credit: jjpacres on Flickr
So now that we’ve thoroughly covered character voice and how to make them talk, it’s time we switch gears to the other aspect of voice that is key to novel-writing.

Remember the About.com definition? Just in case you need a refresher, here it is:

"Voice is the author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character."

It may only be one sentence, but that covers a lot of ground right there: writing that reflects the author’s attitude, personality and character. All three, just in the way sentences are strung together, words are chosen and paragraphs are formed. But how?

Let’s move away from writing for a moment and think about the way people speak. Even with body language and the tenor and volume of voice stripped out, if you overheard a conversation I’m willing to bet you’d probably still be able to pick out differences. Why? Because we all speak differently. Some of us prefer to use more unusual vocabulary while others rely on everyday slang. Some people speak eloquently and could go on for hours without pause, while still others prefer short, abrupt sentences.

Guess what? Author voice is the same way.                                                             
If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you can probably tell that I like brevity. I aim for short paragraphs and occasionally throw in one or two-word sentence fragments just because I can. Like this. I take a conversationalist tone because this is my blog and it flows naturally that way. If you looked at any of my WIPs, you’d probably see similar themes.

Especially the short paragraphs. I love short paragraphs.

Read someone else’s blog and you’d find different patterns, because they have a different voice—and it works the same way with books, too. J.K. Rowling’s novels read differently than, say, William Faulkner’s. Likewise, no one will ever mistake Shakespeare’s writing for anyone else and I’m sure you could pick out your favorite author’s voice in a heartbeat.

If you write even once in a while, you have a writer’s voice. It may not be developed to a point of consistency yet, but it’s there.

And we’ll talk about nurturing it on Monday.

Naturally your favorite author voices are likely going to be from your favorite authors, so let’s hear them! Who are your favorite authors? Mine are Ted Dekker, J.K. Rowling and Eoin Colfer. Share yours!

14 comments:

Krista said...

Oh there are so many! So I will name just a few. Lloyd Alexander, Robin McKinnley, and Patricia C. Wrede.

Mark Clayson said...

Lovely article. I read a book recently by Daniel Priestly - short, snappy and to-the-point sentences and paragraphs. I am modelling my own style on that (a bit).

Carissa Elg said...

Awesome post!

amaranthmine said...

It's funny, I never knew I had a writer's voice until I had already come into it and gotten quite comfortable with its quirks. There are so many authors whose voices I have come to love: Norton Juster, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shakespeare. They are the books I can read over and over again, because they make the journey earnest and alive.

Laura Pauling said...

Just read my first adult book in ages and I loved the voice. It was by Meg Abbot. And it's similar to Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. But, it totally depends on what I'm in the mood for.

K.F.Kirwin said...

Very true, people do not speak in perfect english. It is sad to read books written o formal. Nice to met you. http://nblo.gs/n1IQg

mahek_r said...

For me, it's JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman.

Ava Jae said...

I love J.K. Rowling. I haven't tried Neil Gaiman yet, but I've heard his name a lot. 

Robin Red said...

My favorite authors would have to be Jonathan Stroud and Laini Taylor. Taylor's prose is so colorful and tangible, and Stroud balances imagery with relatable commentary so perfectly.

Ava Jae said...

Haven't read either, but I've heard a lot about Laini Taylor's novels. Note to self: look into Laini Taylor novels.

Robin Red said...

You won't be disappointed.

Ava Jae said...

Good to know. :)

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Ashley Rogers said...

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