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


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
and purple fire
of violets
like red heat,
and the
of her feet:
I had two loves separate;
God who loves
alone knew why
and understood
and told the old

the impossible,

which he did.

~~HD Doolittle, The Master

Thanks for reading.


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

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On Facebook, Ali Katz
On Twitter, @practicalkatz
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  1. ah so that is voice 🙂

    Comment by Lillian Grant — September 17, 2010 @ 04:11 | Reply

  2. The first contest I ever entered my judges commented on my “fresh voice.” I had no idea what they were talking about so I asked them. Only one responded and she said, “You’re voice is what makes you a writer, without it, it’s just so many words.”

    Comment by Debbie Vaughan — September 17, 2010 @ 05:02 | Reply

  3. Wow, that was awesome, Ali! Sooo Cool!

    Comment by Jadette — September 17, 2010 @ 07:25 | Reply

  4. Eloquently put, Ali. And your voice is incredible. I think I could read you everyday and not become tired of it. Hugs honey.

    Comment by Judith Leger — September 17, 2010 @ 07:26 | Reply

  5. Great post. An excellent way to describe voice. 🙂

    Comment by Joanne Stewart — September 17, 2010 @ 07:42 | Reply

  6. I enjoyed reading your post so much, Ali. It took me many years to find my voice–actually, I’m still trying to perfect it.

    Comment by jerridrennen — September 17, 2010 @ 08:29 | Reply

  7. What a wonderful discovery this is! I concur. It is your voice that resonates through out your prose. I’m a two time published writer working on my third. I’ve fumbled around lately trying to identify with characters that are unlike anyone I’ve written and I’ve found my biggest obstacle has been in channeling my voice. But I didn’t know this until I read your commentary, and the suggestion that I read more poetry may actually be the key. Well this is my interpretation on what you’ve written, but nonetheless it has inspired me! Thank you!

    Comment by TA Ford — September 17, 2010 @ 08:36 | Reply

    • “Channeling”, you couldn’t have chosen a more perfect word.

      Thank you for your comment, TA. What more can I ask?

      Comment by practicalkatz — September 17, 2010 @ 09:42 | Reply

  8. I think finding your voice is a big struggle for a lot of writers. Honing in on what makes the story uniquely theirs to tell.

    Great post, Ali. I really enjoyed it.

    Comment by Lauren Fraser — September 17, 2010 @ 11:35 | Reply

  9. (Oooh! Me likey this very, very much!).
    As always really interesting AND helpful. Thanks Ali.

    Comment by elliewrites2 — September 17, 2010 @ 11:37 | Reply

  10. Thanks for explaining the impossible, Ali. Although I wouldn’t call you an old man! :-p

    Comment by Gillian Archer — September 17, 2010 @ 11:43 | Reply

  11. Ali voice is personality. Like when you have artwork, your style is recognisable and unique to you. The writing voice is the same.

    Comment by Penny Azar — September 17, 2010 @ 23:41 | Reply

  12. As always, you have a way of explaining things in a very understandable and user friendly way. As I read your post, I found myself drawing a parallel to actors. Like how certain actors, while they play different roles in the various shows and movies they do, seem to have an underlining personality that carries through from one character to the next; a chracteristic that almost defines them…and we come to expect it…almost become friends with it. Your post made me realize that if I want my readers to depend on me, I have to maintain that certain quality that is mine.

    Thanks as always. Great big hugs.

    Comment by DH Starr — September 18, 2010 @ 06:46 | Reply

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