Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Voice

Voice is one of those aspects of writing that plays a big role in getting attention from agents and editors. If you've stopped to look at successful queries, you'll find that both the query letter and the ms have voice. It's the voice that grabs attention and cries out “read me”.


I'm a pretty nice person (or so I like to think; others may call me on this). I believe strongly in helping others, I've signed the charter for compassion, and yet when I write, the characters whose voices come through most clearly are the nasty ones. The selfish ones rule the roost. Is it some hidden part of me that I try to squirrel away? If so, I hope it only comes out on paper. But it makes me stop to think.

Where does voice come from?


  1. I believe voice comes from the writer's personal experiences in life, desire for each individual character, and story goal. Unique. Just like each idea, path to publication, and writer.

  2. Interesting, Alison. Maybe it's easier to find the voice for a "nasty" character, because it's not like you.

  3. Hi Alison, I share that same worry and it gives me pause, too. If we root out that not so nice side of ourselves though, we can vanquish it on the page.

  4. I think voice isn't something we've got a lot of control over and a nice voice is boring in a story anyway. Hopefully voice evolves with the story as we do in the writing world.

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  6. i dont know, but i know when i hear it :)

  7. I also have an easier time writing the villains sometimes, though I don't know why. Part of it is that it's more fun to write someone who is so unlike me. If my lip curls in disgust at a character I've written, I know I've done a good job.

    Good luck with the last days of the A to Z Challenge!

  8. Sheri: Probably so. I'd never really stopped to think about where it came from until I wrote this post.

    Andrea: Maybe. Or maybe the nasty characters are just voicier, in general.

    Clara: That's my hope!

    catherine: It's amazing how much things evolve, the more you write.

    Diedra: Thank you!

    Templeton's fury: That's what everyone says!

    Shannon: Glad to know it's not just me. Thanks for the luck; I'm starting to get behind! :)

  9. Voice comes from your subconscious, and if you're seeing that kind of vivid dialogue coming out in your story, that's not only nothing to worry about -- it's a very positive thing! You won't get in trouble if you let those characters say what they want and act out their impulses.