Monday, March 06, 2006

Back to Writing....

Do you recognize your voice when you are writing? If you do, what kinds of things do you do to cultivate it?

I'm running a workshop at Romance Central's forums on finding and developing the writing voice. Some people have a distinctive voice right out of the box. They write and it is immediately recognizable. Some writers take years to develop their own voice and the road can be rocky.

First, there are "da rules." Writers know all about these rules that tell us what we can and can't write, what will and won't work. But too often we takes these rules as gospel rather than guidelines. We get so concerned that we are not fitting into the mold required, we dilute our voices. Then there are the cp's. A good cp will recognize your voice and critique your work without changing it. I've had cp's who have literally re-written sentences in their voice because that is what they prefer. A good cp may not like your voice, but they will respect it as yours and help you polish your work.

If you haven't recognized your voice, how do you do it? It isn't that easy. But read through your work and look at word choices. Keep a rhythm in your head when your read. Look at themes you follow in your writing. I think the biggest eye opener for me was when I ran into some writing I did about 18 years ago. The word choices were the same, the structure of the sentences followed the same cadence as I have today. It lacked in other areas, but the voice was definitely mine.

For me, the biggest pitfall with voice is my choice of projects. Its like clothes shopping. I am always drawn to outfits that look horrible on me. I know they will, but I go ahead and try them on anyway then gag when I look in the mirror. Writing is similar. I have some harebrained idea for a novel, get about 10 or more pages into it then gag in the mirror. It isn't the writing, but the voice is all wrong. Matching the wrong voice to the wrong project takes all the spark out of it. I think we've all read a book by a favorite author that lacked that spark we liked so much. I think there has been a rash of authors jumping from the books which fit their voices into stories that are more marketable.