Previous: Part 1
As I mentioned in my previous post, there often seems to be an aura of mystery around the whole concept of voice in writing. I've heard some say it can't really be defined, that a writer with a middle grade voice can't write YA (and vice versa). That having "a strong voice" is necessary for some genres but not others. That you can't change your voice so therefore it's important to find what your own writing voice IS so you can write the appropriate type of material.
I've been wrestling over how to approaching this series of posts and I've decided that I'm going to start out by looking at how different writers approach voice.
Stephen points out that the writer's voice is fabricated:
"The critical fact to remember is that the writer’s voice is artificial. It’s an act of artifice, crafted by the professional to achieve a specific effect in a work of the imagination. It’s not the “real” writer’s voice and if you try to find your own, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Because “you” don’t really exist. I don’t either, no matter how convincingly anybody tells us that we do or how much we choose to believe it. But that’s a subject for another chapter."
On the role of voice:
"The writer’s voice casts a spell. The right voice makes the work accessible; it gives us the tone and point of view that best illuminate the material and make it shine."
On finding the right voice for your story:
"To me the trick is getting your own ego out of the way. What voice does the material want? Find that. You the writer are not there to impose “your” voice on the material. Your job is to surrender to the material–and allow it to tell you what voice it wants in order to tell itself."
What I got out of this blog post:
According to Stephen Pressfield, a writer should theoretically be able to change his or her voice from one story to another. In fact, the voice SHOULD change and be created to best suit the material:
The writer’s voice (or director’s, choreographer’s, photographer’s, entrepreneur’s) arises from the material itself and acts in service to that material. It can, and often does, change from book to book, dance to dance, album to album, business venture to business venture.
This is encouraging news for someone like me. I've been told that my novels are written with a strong middle grade voice. While this is fine for my middle grade novels, what if I want to write YA? And what about specifics? What's the best way to change voice?
More in my next post.
You can read Stephen Pressfield's full post on The Writer's Voice.
-- Debbie Ridpath Ohi