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I came across an interesting article in Poets & Writers Sept/Oct edition. J.T. Bushnell, who teaches writing and literature at Oregon State University, has some points on finding a voice that truly speaks. Here are some excerpts:
“The writers I know are always talking about “finding your voice,” and the phrase seems to imply more than just how your sentences sound – it means you know who you are as a writer.”
“What is “voice,” exactly, and where does it come from? Most craft books and teachers say the same thing as agents: It’s how the writing sounds, what words are chosen, how sentences are arranged.” Bushnell goes on to say that while these are contributing factors to a writer’s voice, they are only the most obvious ones and that this is a rather simplistic view of what voice is. “It’s like saying action comes from chase scenes, or that love comes from shared interests. These things are often true, but we all know that there are subtler and more meaningful sources for both action and love.”
This got me thinking. Voice is hard to define or explain, but you know it when you hear it. If it doesn’t come naturally, it can take a lot of experimentation and practice to acquire it. The question is how do you know when you have it? Will it stay the same for each writing project or will it change depending on your protagonist’s personality, the genre and age group you’re writing for and the narrative you’re adopting? I’m thinking that as you grow and develop as a writer, so does your voice.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
"You know who you are as a writer."

That makes a lot of sense to me.
Oct. 1st, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Me too. His article really got me thinking.
Sep. 30th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
For a long time, I didn't think I had a voice. It took years for me to recognize what was there all along, to polish it and trust it. I think it's a self-confidence and authority that is reflected in your diction, style and choice of story.

I think an author's voice is in all her or his projects, even when he/she changes genres. You can recognize Margaret Atwood or Stephen King or J.D. Salinger or Amy Tan no matter what they write.
Oct. 1st, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
Excellent points. I also think voice evolves naturally the more you write. The more you write, the more relaxed you become about your writing and your internal editor becomes less intrusive.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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