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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Developing Voice

At BookEnds, author Christi Craig has her say on "voice". Go over and check it out.

Christie mentioned in the comments area that voice evolves with time. I think that's true. If I go back and look at early samples of my writing, I can see glimpses of my glib and carefree voice that I've since honed. But I can also see a little darkness too.

Me, dark? I can draw it out whenever the scene demands it, but I'm such an upbeat person in real life that it takes me a while to find that dark and sulky voice. Like "other" things in life, I have to be in the mood to write dark.

Voice is probably the hardest thing to master. Part of it is due to the confidence in your writing style. Those who haven't yet found their voice sometimes waffle from one tone to another within the same scene. It gives you an uneasy feeling that the author is not in control.

When I was studying painting at university, I was fascinated with the concept of style, the painterly version of writer's voice. I don't know if teaching methods have changed since I was at school, but back then we learned by copying the masters.

My early canvasses were faithful copies, but as I grew more confident, I often took chances and changed the tone of the color palette, or the energy of the brush strokes. Eventually a style emerged that turned out to be uniquely my own. My painter's voice had developed.

I think the same concept applies to writing. You learn by reading and practicing. When you start to feel as if you understand where you're going, you're more willing to strike out in a style that is uniquely yours. Only time and practice will make it stick.

I don't know about other people, but I found in both painting and writing, my voice emerged so slowly as to be imperceptible. By absorbing the work around me, I developed recognizable traits that indicated style. Ta Da! Voice!

With any luck, you'll also develop a following of readers who also appreciate your voice.