You’re with me right now. Watching that commercial with the guy on his cell phone saying, “Can you hear me now?” That’s where we begin today. Asking that very question when we give our writing to someone else to read. “Can you hear me now?”
Here’s a question for you. What is your voice and can it be heard in your writing?
I’ve asked that question at writers conferences and heard crickets chirp in the back of the room. That, coupled with cold, blank stares was a great indication my class was clueless. I can’t say I expected less. I remember the first time someone asked me that question. Finding your voice takes time and tweaking, but once you slip into it, you can bring your writing level up several notches.
What is voice?
Voice is your style, your specific personality and (for lack of better words) your “swagger or attitude” in your writing. It’s when you put your personal stamp on the words you’ve crafted…made it “your own.” It’s what takes normal paragraphs and uniquely sets it above the rest. That’s voice. Taking the words on the page and adding the twists and turns, the quirkiness of your own personality. My style of writing is very conversational when I’m working on blog posts and devotions, but when I fall into fiction, the conversational style and my personality blend to make my true voice.
I’m a mountain girl. I carry a strong mountain accent in my speaking voice, and I’m full of colloquialisms and cliches’. It’s who I am. My novels are Appalachian Mountain historical fiction and when I begin to write it’s easy for me to drag the reader into the Appalachians with me. I want them to hear the inflection, smell the scents, trek the leafy pathways and climb the rocks on the side of the summit when they read my work. I work hard to find the right balance of who I am and how I talk into the words I write so my reader doesn’t get bogged down.
Voice is who you are as a writer and it will vary depending on the genre where you’re writing. For example, in fiction you can add all the bells and whistles of your voice, but for a magazine article, you’ll have to adjust – work to fit the venue you’re writing to.
Take a look at my voice in fiction:
Married at 13, a mother at 14, widowed and childless by sixteen. Ain’t nobody should have to learn life like I did. No soul should have to claw their way back from the bowels of hell, scared and scraped up like I was. If I can keep that from happening to anybody else, then I can live up to my name—Mercy. – Where the River Begins
Voice comes by finding those distinctive verbs, or phrases that set the picture firm in your readers mind. Readers understand the people of the Appalachian Mountains when they read phrases like, “No soul should have to claw their way back from the bowels of hell, scared and scraped up like I was.” My desire is for them to see the hard life of the mountains without over doing the obvious laziness of a southern drawl.
Controlling the Voice
Equally as important in finding your voice, is learning to control it. When I write in this mountain voice, my instinct is to write exactly like I talk (that lazy southern drawl), with things like this: “If I can keep that from happenin’ to anybody else, then I can live up to my name – Mercy. That’s why I’m teachin’ you different.” That’s certainly voice, but for the reader, there has to be a balance. Too much of a good thing becomes cumbersome and hard to read.
Let’s face it, not all readers are from the mountains in the south (go figure). Leaving off the ” ing” on most of my words would…well…, fry them. I get this. That’s why it’s important I continue to write as close to normal as possible, but toss in the flavor of who I am and where I’m from. I can save the shortened words for my dialogue and this allows that balance for the reader. They get the feel of the mountains in a language they can easily read , yet when they fall into the dialogue, it flows natural for them. Hopefully, they get the voice of my writing and they lean back and enjoy it. I’d like to think when they’re done reading, they feel like they’ve experienced the mountain and it’s people, culture and joy.
Voice does matter in your writing. A strong voice allows you to choose your words wisely – make every one count. It’s speaks to the reader, draws them in, holds them tight. Voice makes reading an author’s work…fun! I once heard author, Ron Benrey say, “Voice is what begins to build that imaginary bubble your reader floats in.”
Finding Your Voice
Finding your voice may take some time, and that’s okay. It should.
Look at the genre’s you’re writing to and find the one you feel comfortable in. For example, you may be writing mystery novels but it feels hard and forced for you. Maybe you’ve chosen this because you’ve heard, “It’s what’s selling,” and so you try to write to the market. Perhaps the words are good and you are happy when you’re done, but then you try your hand at writing romance. You’re amazed how the words fly onto the page and how the dialogue is so easy. The description is easier and you find that you’re adding dabs of your own way of speaking, your thoughts. Maybe you’re finding your voice. Being comfortable allows you the opportunity to discover your voice. Once you’ve found it, then you can adjust it to fit the work you’re writing.
Grant you, it’s not all in the voice when you search for the genre you’re most talented in, but when the voice clicks, the story flows and you can read it with the twists of your own quirkiness, then you’ve found it. So you learn to build on that in other directions and genres.
Once you learn where your voice lies you’ll never be asking that nagging question, “Can you hear me now?” You will be heard.
Photo Credit microsoft.com free image gallery
Love Your Faculty
10/17/2018 3:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Immeasurable Power in You
10/14/2018 2:37:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Forging Ahead after Rejection
7/17/2018 8:12:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
6/4/2018 8:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Closing Up Shop - Guiding Seniors to Letting Go
4/9/2018 10:56:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
3/16/2018 1:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
In Prayer - I Write
3/3/2018 9:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Encouraged - Even When . . .
1/2/2018 12:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
12/18/2017 12:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Holiday Elder Care - Be an Elder Elf
11/12/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Grateful for a Dream I Didn't Know I Had
11/9/2017 6:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing in a Pickle
11/4/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Keep Them Reading
11/1/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Chicken Soup for the Soul - Writer Call Out
10/27/2017 10:05:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Five Ways to Assure Your Work will Find the Slush Pile
10/24/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
23rd Psalm Revisited
10/21/2017 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Contentment in Writing
10/19/2017 9:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
5 Common Sense Tips to Better Writing
10/10/2017 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
8/21/2017 10:05:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Chicken Soup for the Soul Callout - Stories about Love
8/21/2017 7:54:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Present Yourself Approved and Professional
8/14/2017 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Five Keys to Overcoming Rejection
8/12/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing Call Out - Chicken Soup for the Soul
8/10/2017 8:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing Your Mission Statement
8/8/2017 7:38:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
When Words of Encouragement Wane
6/28/2017 10:54:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
The Good, The Bad, and the Memoir
2/6/2017 10:59:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing Truth with Love
1/13/2017 11:05:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Oh To Be A Writer
1/4/2017 11:12:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
1/1/2017 11:16:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing the Cliffhanger
12/28/2016 11:23:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
6/21/2016 3:48:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Pain of Unsolicited
3/9/2016 3:51:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Frozen in Place – Icey Self-Talk to Freeze Your Writing
2/9/2016 3:58:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage
11/21/2015 3:02:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Thankful Despite . . .
11/20/2015 3:04:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Stepping Up to Na-No-Wri-Mo
11/16/2015 3:08:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Gift of No Gifts
11/2/2015 3:11:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writers Be Encouraged
10/15/2015 3:17:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Keep ‘Em Reading – It’s the Writer’s Responsibility
8/13/2015 3:26:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
7/17/2015 3:31:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Overcoming the Fear of Writing Failure
7/8/2015 3:38:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Making the Move – Home to Assisted Living
6/17/2015 3:41:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
I Kid You Not
6/6/2015 3:44:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Who Really Sells Your Books
5/24/2015 3:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Homonyms – Did You Sea/See Them Their/There?
3/10/2015 3:52:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Hearing the Call to Foster – Renee McCausey
1/13/2015 3:54:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Throw Out the Crutches
1/10/2015 5:02:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
So You Were Asked to Be A Beta Reader?
1/10/2015 3:59:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
REJECTIONS – Aaughhh!
1/5/2015 5:04:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Bachelor – Stephanie Reed
12/14/2014 5:06:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Those 15-Minute Appointments
12/3/2014 5:08:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Making of a Servant
11/30/2014 5:10:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Miracle in a Dry Season Review – Yvonne Lehman
8/27/2014 5:12:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
8/26/2014 5:17:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
World Blog Tour – Catching Up with Cindy Sproles
7/22/2014 5:19:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Progression of Life
7/17/2014 5:23:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Instrumental Writing Helps – Aaron Gansky
7/4/2014 5:27:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Question Saga
6/29/2014 5:28:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Defy the Night – REVIEW
4/28/2014 5:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
When the Work is Hard to Do
4/1/2014 5:31:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
My Heart Belongs to Him
2/14/2014 5:32:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Review of The Vicar’s Wife
2/2/2014 5:44:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The In on Self Publishing – Part 2
12/29/2013 3:44:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The In on Self Publishing – Part 1
12/26/2013 3:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Divorce My Words? Never!
10/25/2013 3:50:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
In a Pickle
10/1/2013 3:52:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Bigger and Better
9/27/2013 3:54:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Putting SOCIAL back in Media
8/10/2013 8:08:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
After the Conference Ends…
8/8/2013 8:13:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Here a Tweak, There a Tweak, Everywhere a Tweak, Tweak
8/2/2013 8:15:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
A Writing Circle of Life
7/30/2013 8:16:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Can You Hear Me Now?
7/23/2013 8:18:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Golden Years, Cherished Moments
3/20/2013 7:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Broken Heart Syndrome
9/26/2012 7:56:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
What About Our Elders
8/24/2012 7:57:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
A Minute – A Lifetime
8/10/2012 7:58:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Water, Water – Who’s Got the Water
7/31/2012 7:59:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles