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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Voice

As I mentioned in my last post, I had what felt like an epiphany about voice while reading Nephele Tempest's blog entry on how to make a manuscript unputdownable.

I think I know voice as a reader, in that I-know-it-when-I-see-it sort of way, but haven't had a whole lot of a sense of how to create it as a writer. Once thing I've worked on that I think has made me better at it was writing in deeper third person, but I think there's more to having a really good voice than just that.

Here's the realization I came to as I read her entry: I've been approaching voice--and I think most novice writers do this--as an issue of craft, by which I mean nuts and bolts word choice and stuff like that. Style. And beyond a certain point, it's not. It is, I think, an issue of characterization. I'm thinking if your voice is not distinctive, it's because your protagonist is not. Looking back on my writing, I'm suddenly struck by the realization that I have a tendency to make my protagonists somewhat vanilla, and to have a side character that totally steals the show--or at least every scene she or he is in. (My interesting supporting characters tend to be girls more often than boys for some reason.)

I think I've been approaching my protagonists with an unverbalized sense that they're interesting simply by virtue of the fact that they're at the center of the stories. With just a little more thought on how to make them stand out, together with the lessons I've already learned on things such as deeper third, I think I could do a much better job.

1 comment:

storyqueen said...

On the "vanilla" concept....your words made me realize that is exactly what I have done in a current WIP. That side character keeps stealing the show.

thanks for the food for thought.