Do you know your writing voice?

According to Margaret Maron, creator of Judge Deborah Knott: Voice is the most important ingredient in a successful book. The plot may be clever, but if the voice doesn’t engage us, how can we care?

According to John Morgan Wilson who writes the Benjamin Justice mystery series: There is difference between voice and style though it is difficult to get at. To me voice is closer to attitude and the emotional quality of the prose, reflecting the personality of the author.

Jason Pinter, ( an author who I love reading) a former St. Martin’s Press editor states: Voice is the conversational quality of your writing, the way you “talk” to your reader. It’s as important in writing as it is in conversing aloud with someone or speaking to a group. If your voice isn’t confident, assured, authoritative, natural, and appropriate for your characters and story, the writing will feel stilted, forced, ragged, weak, awkward. Just as speaking aloud is ineffective if one is halting, hesitant, lacking in confidence, and so on

Now that is all well and good until I try to find my own voice. My Character Development instructor said he knew my voice and I did as well. I do? Funny I thought to myself for my last instructor told me the same thing. This is a trend for people out of my writing groups concur with these teachers. How come everyone knows what my voice is but me? I try hard not to think on this and just write. Apparently I am accomplishing the voice subconsciously.

One good way is to read your story aloud. It may sound silly but it is a good way to hear one’s errors, pace and flow. Perhaps a writer will discover their voice. Will I ever be able to describe this important ingredient to others, I do not know. Hopefully though my voice is being written loud and clear in my writings.

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Developing your story: Characters and so much more

After taking a character development class the instructor passed out a form on how to critique the members of the group. That made me wonder. It would be awesome, in my opinion, if we could pass this on to our writing group members after they read what we presented to them. It would be also interesting to hand it out to reviewers prior to them submitting their reviews of our books. Granted that could get interesting but also informative.

 

What would you add or change if you did this yourself?

 

So if I could pass on a form this is what I would include. Each section is worth five points.

Plot

-Attention needs to be paid to plot development

-The story lacks credibility in places

-Good start/good ideas but loses direction and force

-The story holds interest throughout but the ending is disappointing

-Flows smoothly,well researched, almost there

-This is a well-crafted story and it is clear that the author has considered all the aspects of the plot

Characterization

-The characters do not always come over as real people

-Told from the viewpoint of too many characters, so that the readers learns little about them

-In general, the characters are believable , although there is room for improvement

-The characters are well drawn and true to life/does the character have an inner life

-Strong characterization means that the reader’s sympathies are instantly engaged.

Pace

-The story starts slowly

-The story needs a more varied pace

-Side-issues slow the story down

-In general, the story moves well, although there are times when interest wavers

-A good pace is maintained throughout

-This story’s page-turning quality is excellent

Dialogue

-The characters all tend to speak with the same voice

-Some attention should be given to the dialogue, which does not always ring true

-Although the dialogue is believable, there are places where it serves no obvious purpose

-In general, the dialogue sounds authentic

-the sharply written dialogue reveals much about the characters

-The dialogue is excellent, adding a sparking dimension to the story

 

 

Liberties in writing

 

 

 

This is a post from a few years ago. The message is still the same which is to know who your audience is and who might pick up your book.

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I have been a bird owner since 1998. In that time, I have raised, bred, and cared for my birds with love and affection.  So when I decided to write a children’s book based on my parrot Jasper, I add some of my experience to the story.   When it came time for me to start looking for people to critique it, I thought of my friend Nita in New Hampshire.  She and I had met on a bird forum years ago and had struck up a friendship. Nita has been a bird breeder for well over 30 years so it only made sense for her to read my MS.

I had taken some liberties when it came to a bird hatching and I knew she would zero in on that part- she did.  She laughed and said you really took some liberties with your writing. I laughed back and then told her I had kept it short due to length and not wanting to lose my targeted audience which are kids.

I mentioned to her how I had just finished reading a book where one of main characters had a cockatiel.  According to this book this bird could sing over 40 songs and not just sing the tunes but the actually words. I have raised cockatiels since 1998 and to date not one has sung the words to any song. I might be able to buy the 40 songs but that was it.  She giggled at this information and decided I did not go  outside the box too much. Thinking back, I have decided to edit and put in a short paragraph to make the hatching  more realistic.

As writers we take liberties though we try to keep it within reason. While I enjoyed the book with the singing cockatiel, it was in the back of my subconscious.  Every time I read about that character I felt a little dread for I knew it would be repeated again about this amazing bird.

So, this reminded me to know my target audience. One needs to do constant research time and time again. You never know who will pick up your book.  These are the people who will buy your book and will decide whether they want to recommend it to others.