Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Voice- The Song of the Writer

You hear editors and agents continually asking for stories with VOICE in it. They want to hear a distintive sound, different from what they have already seen. So of course the question writers ask back is what is voice?

Jill Santopolo in her interview here talks about the writer's voice as their 'soul print'. She goes on to share that the best way to find your author's voice is to keep writing and writing.

She says, "The same way I can walk down the street and recognize the work of certain clothing designers or architects, I should be able to read a book and recognize the soul print of the author who wrote it."

I often think of it as the sound the author wants to create with their words. Depending on how you construct your sentence, it will give you a different sound.

Think of it like music. There are different categories such as classical, R&B, pop, soundtracks. The words in a book also could fall into different categories.

Look how different each of these phrases pulled from various books sounds:

"The Mudshark was cool. Not because he said he was cool or knew he was or thought it. Not because he tried or even cared. He just was." From MUDSHARK by Gary Paulsen

"I tread slowly, my bare feet giving me an advantage because on this rich green carpet I'm practically silent. I pass the doors, listening for sound, signs of life. But the only sound comes form the door at the end of the hallway that's slightly ajar. There are moans, gasps." From WITHER by Lauen DeStefano

"Yikes. I slam my hand down on the paper. Sucking in a deep breah, I peek under my palm again. Yikes again. A fat red F shimmers before my eyes, its wide arms swaying, mocking me, calling me lame names." From i so don't do mysteries by Barrie Summy

I love how each of those lines gives me a totally different feel, a different sound. They are music rising up from the pages.

Great links for more on The Writer's Voice:
What are some books with great voice that you recommend?

~ Christina


  1. Excellent post, Christy! I like your perspective on voice as the sounds created by the words. From there, you can see how it has to fit with the POV character in that it has to sound the right way to go with the character's personality.

  2. I love this post! Voice is so hard to nail down definitively, and you did an excellent job. I've always pictured voice as the author's fingerprint, but I like the 'soul print' a lot better. :)

  3. Andrea- exactly

    Danyelle- Author's fingerprint! I like that too.

  4. Voice is so tricky. Thanks for these tips.


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