Some Write It Hot

September 17, 2010

Voice By Ali Katz

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
Tags: , , , ,

My face-to-face crit group picked up a new member about a month ago. He’s fresh out of college, has been writing for a long time, but never tried to have anything published. The first chapter he presented for crit was a well-crafted bit of writing but typical for a beginner: lots of flowery descriptive passages, no action, no concept of character, not a clue to what the story was about.

One of our older members, who’s been around a while and has a few novels with a major print publisher, commented. “This voice might work for a literary piece, but it won’t fly in genre fiction.”

His reply, “What’s voice?”

People keep slinging that word around. I had to look it up.

Voice is a combination of a writer’s use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc….Voice can also be referred to as the specific fingerprint of an author, as every author has a different writing style. ~~Wikipedia

OoooKaaaay.

One thing I know about voice is how elusive it can be.

Hard to find, easy to lose. Usually, when I feel myself slipping, or more often locked up, I pick up a piece of fiction by an author I enjoy reading and start analyzing paragraphs. Lately, I’ve been reading poetry.

O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!

~~Walt Whitman, A Song of Joys

In a half dozen articles, I kept reading these words: song, poetry, sound, rhythm, color. Color?

A writer’s voice is his song. The magic of words strung together to create an image only he can show us. It’s a living breathing thing that changes as characters, scene, emotions change, but beneath every line lies the unique voice of the individual telling his story.

Can we learn it? We can learn to do it right. Study syntax, accept the rules, learn to use them to your advantage, but your voice is within you waiting to be found. It forms from all you have experienced, all the people you’ve met, all you have read, all that makes you who you are.

So, how do you find it? By writing, and rewriting, and writing again. And, in my case, I write, and rewrite, write again and read poetry. At some point, the words fall into place and you see magic happen. Voila, exactly what you wanted to say, said clearly and beautifully.

I did not know how to differentiate
between volcanic desire,
anemones like
embers
and purple fire
of violets
like red heat,
and the
cold
silver
of her feet:
I had two loves separate;
God who loves
all
mountains,
alone knew why
and understood
and told the old
man
to
explain

the impossible,

which he did.

~~HD Doolittle, The Master

Thanks for reading.

ali

Read more from Ali on her Blog, Love Songs or her Website, Passion In Spades

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