Tag Archives: writer

On Writing – Finding One’s Voice

When reading up on writing tips, I found a few articles on how to develop a good character voice. For me, that never felt like my main challenge. Acting classes were an integral part of my personal development (I started at 5 years old and had them for 10 years), so my way into a story is always through the uniqueness of its main character. They come to me with a voice, a persona and a purpose, and the challenge is to do them justice when I transition them from my head to paper. The few ideas that formed as a setting are waiting for their character to show up so I can write them.

I found fewer articles about developing a writer’s voice, which is what I perceive as my personal challenge for a long term career.

A writer’s voice is a writer’s unique style that is recognizable from one work to another. It’s something loyal readers can expect from every book. It shouldn’t overshadow the character’s voice, yet it should be there. For several writers, it’s heavily tied to the genre/family of genres they are known for, though it’s not the only defining element.

Huh…

Lucky those who know which genre they like and can develop an expertise in that. I can’t. My written projects include a bit of everything, so does my bookshelf and my notebook of future projects. Most of my stories contain bits of everything in and of themselves. I sometimes write the story first and figure out the closest genre after a couple of edits –sue me!

So what’s my writer’s voice, then?

I didn’t want to force it, but I wanted to know what it was because I’m a nerd when it comes to introspection and understanding how who I am is reflected in my art.

Also, that could come in handy to give reference points to agents when they ask my writing is similar to whose.

Here’s how I’ve uncovered my voice.

Write and Analyze

The first step is to generate a good amount of work to analyze. Novels, short stories, prompt-inspired or not; what matters is to write. Then, when I edited stories, I paid attention to trends, patterns and differentiating elements.

Drabble Day challenges were especially useful for this. The stories were short so it was easy to analyze them and spot patterns. Since other writers also participated, I could analyze how we had each tackled the theme. As I discerned elements of their voice, I also discerned some of mine.

List Common Grounds

As I analyzed, patterns emerged so I built up a list of them:

  • Character-driven
  • Elements of science-fiction and/or fantasy. I don’t go for a hundred percent realism, but I can come fairly close.
  • Strong female characters
  • I’m funnier than I thought.
  • Recurring themes: stories about different forms of supernatural foresight, characters uncomfortable in their own skin/with their own powers, feminism, identity crisis…

Of course, once I found this my brain came up with a few stories that didn’t touch these common grounds. *sigh* These were still good trends to investigate further.

Read and Analyze

The list helped me stir my reading beyond entertainment or research of the genres I write. I started researching the potential elements of my voice and picked up books that fit one of the elements, maybe two. Books that aren’t quite in my usual top choices, but are adjacent to what I like writing myself.

Whether I liked the book or not, I learned something about myself and which parts of me shine through my writing. It also helped me learn the weaknesses of the way I approach a story (like often forgetting setting descriptions) and find ways to tackle them that work with my voice (melding setting to actions).

Compile

As I read, I tweaked the list and precised it. Some aspects are things I aspire to do right because I found that they mattered to me, to the type of voice I want to have:

  • Wholesome World and Characters a la Kim Harrison: The Hollows series features a great cast of unique characters that each seem to have a life outside of Rachel’s (the MC). The world is well crafted down to key expressions that are unique to her setting. Some of it, like the killer tomato, is quirky and yet works in her serious setting.
  • Sassy quirky fun a la Janet Evanovich: The offbeat characters of the Stephanie Plum series resonate with me. Even in the direst circumstances, they’re hilarious. And the direst circumstances are a little crazy too.

And that’s as far as I got. *laughs* I wish I could tell you that I have all the aspects of my voice and all the pitfalls figured out, but it’ll take me a bit more time and research to get there (if I ever get there.) Also, my voice evolves as I go through the process and refines what really matters to me, and how I want readers to relate to me.

What about you? What elements are defining the way you write?

And if you’ve read some of my stuff, what has jumped out at you as things I should consider as my voice?

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WeWriWa – Boys…

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Hi everyone,

I’m participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior, a weekly blog event during which writers share 8 to 10 sentences of one of their projects. You should check out the others right here: http://www.wewriwa.com/. I share this post with the Snippet Sunday Facebook group, which you can find here.

We’re back with another excerpt from my steampunk novel, Oil and Boiling Water (previous excerpts are compiled here). We pick up right after last week’s snippet. Damian is replying to Éloi’s statement that he only meant to preserve Tatiana’s piece of mind.

“Of course,” Damian said to Éloi and extended a shilling. “Here. For your trouble.”
The shine of metal drew envious looks as Éloi pocketed the money, and I realised that my fear had been justified: we looked a little too proper for the establishment and some tenants had noticed.
“You may have made my fortune.” Éloi nodded to indicate the dice table. “Very generous! And she’s too charming to be any trouble.”
“Right…” Damian chuckled and sat.


WeWriWa – Éloi

wewriwa_button

Hi everyone,

I’m participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior, a weekly blog event during which writers share 8 to 10 sentences of one of their projects. You should check out the others right here: http://www.wewriwa.com/. I share this post with the Snippet Sunday Facebook group, which you can find here.

We’re back with another excerpt from my steampunk novel, Oil and Boiling Water (previous excerpts are compiled here). We’ve jumped a couple of lines of dialogue between Tatiana and Éloi (aka Mister Goldilocks) to where Damian (Tatiana’s brother) returns.

“She’s out of your league.” My brother dropped a bowl full of stew in front of me. “And you’re sitting at my place.”
Milles excuses, monsieur. I only meant to preserve your sister’s peace.” Éloi rose and pulled out the chair for my brother with a theatrical bow. I remembered seeing a similar one done by a servant in a Castilian masked play. Had Éloi seen the play at one of the public shows or was he simply parodying nobles?
Was it usual for sailors to parody nobles?


WeWriWa – Damsel?

wewriwa_button

Hi everyone,

I’m participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior, a weekly blog event during which writers share 8 to 10 sentences of one of their projects. You should check out the others right here: http://www.wewriwa.com/. I share this post with the Snippet Sunday Facebook group, which you can find here.

We’re back with another excerpt from my steampunk novel, Oil and Boiling Water (previous excerpts are compiled here). Picking up where we left off last week, Tatiana has been ambushed by a touchy and sputtering drunk man.

I stifled a shudder long enough to grab one of the man’s fingers and remove his hand from mine.
“I think the lady wants you gone,” Goldilocks intervened. His French accent skewed the ‘th’ towards ‘s’ or ‘z’ and making ‘gone’ sound like ‘gun’, but the depth of his tone compensated for the disgrace in pronunciation.
Mister Slug grunted and wobbled off his chair, attempting to slam into Goldilocks who dodged with a swift step. His knee hit the slug’s behind, sending him back towards his drinking companions on unsteady feet.
With a smile, Goldilocks sat in the newly vacated chair. “I have a penchant for damsels in distress.”
From the corner of my eyes, I saw the heavy man toasting without a hint of intoxication; he must have thought I wasn’t paying attention anymore.
I cocked an eyebrow. “A penchant for setting them up for a rescue, it seems.”


WeWriWa – Social Mechanics

wewriwa_button

Hi everyone,

I’m participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior, a weekly blog event during which writers share 8 sentences of one of their projects. You should check out the others right here: http://www.wewriwa.com/. I share this post with the Snippet Sunday Facebook group, which you can find here.

We’re back with another excerpt from my steampunk novel, Oil and Boiling Water (previous excerpts are compiled here). We’re jumping ahead a bit. The twins are back in the main room of the Loose Cogs tavern for dinner. Damian tried to draw a waitress’ attention, to no avail.

Damian jostled his way to the bar, forgetting to drag me along. A stranger too large for his health commandeered my brother’s empty seat and overflowed its limits. With a slur and a gush of foul breath, the over-sized mammal said, “Whatsa pretthing like you doin a plass like zis?”
“Studying the social mechanics of the port’s ecosystem.” Unfortunately, the tight quarters made it impossible for me to distance myself from my studies.
The man laid a hand over mine, and I jerked.
“You talk pretty’oo.” He managed —by a skill no man should possess— to sputter all over my forearm.


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