Today's topic -- by request -- is a writer's voice. Voice is an elusive thing. When submitting to agents and publishers, among their guidelines, you often read that they want "an engaging voice." But how do you achieve that?
Voice to a writer is like light is to an artist. For an artist, skill is one thing, but the paintings truly come alive in in how you see -- and reproduce -- the light on canvas. It can be taught, but only to an extent. It's really something that must grow. The same goes for writing. When I first started writing, my voice was obscured by whoever my favorite writer was at the moment. As time went on, I started sounding more and more like myself. Nowadays, my writing sounds like "me" no matter who I'm reading at the moment.
Nathalie Mallet will be joining us for today's discussion. Her novels, The Princes of the Golden Cage and The King's Daughters, feature the voice of Prince Amir. Here are her thoughts on a writer's voice:
Finding one's voice is a term that one hears frequently in writing courses. But although one may know about the elements that make up voice—diction, syntax, tone and dialogue—it does not guarantee success. The way I do it is to simply assume the voice of my protagonist. And usually the tone of the narration comes from whichever details of the main character’s personality speak the loudest to me. In Amir’s case, it was his overly careful nature and his strong desire to remain anonymous.
Here’s an excerpt from The Princes of the Golden cage that best exemplifies this:
Being noticed meant having your potential evaluated. Never a good thing when one lived caged with so many power-thirsty brothers. To say that you didn’t want to become the next Sultan, that surviving was enough for you, was useless, even if true. For many of my brothers, only dead princes posed no threat. I counted myself lucky for being of average size, for having the dark hair and brown eyes shared by most of my siblings. Because of this I could blend easily in their midst. With its high cheekbones, square chin and short well-groomed beard, my face was one of many alike—unremarkable. I cultivated every bit of this blandness. I slumped whenever I was with shorter brothers, tried to sound dull when with dimwitted ones, and mimicked the affectations of my high-ranking brothers when near them. Even in my choice of clothes, I was careful. Blue and green were the predominant color of the palace’s walls, and therefore of my kaftans. Even my name, Amir, was common. There was at least four or five other Princes Amir still alive—a real blessing.
I liked this excerpt because it really captured Prince Amir's personality.
Please join in with your own comments. Remember to keep any excerpts to 300 words. Please post replies and your own excerpts as separate comments, to make for easier reading.
Thank you for joining us, Nathalie!