The Voice

For those of you expecting some sort of exposé or update on Blake Shelton, Usher, Shakira, or Adam Levine; I apologize. This has nothing to do with the popular American TV show, though I guess there is some similarity between the show and the topic of this post.

In the TV show, the celebrity judges are trying to identify singers with unique voices… which gave the show its name. In a way, this is what an agent/publisher, and our readers, are looking for. A Unique Voice. Or at least a voice that they can align their desires with.

The VoiceMany authors have been told by an agent/publisher that they need to find their voice. So the question becomes. What is an author’s voice?

When I first started writing, I was worried because I didn’t feel like I was skilled in all the different aspects of writing. Well, actually, I wasn’t skilled with any of them, but as I kept writing I realized that there were some things which came naturally, and others that were… let’s just say, didn’t feel very natural. Not natural at all. But as an author, I needed to develop my skills in all areas to produce a work that would draw readers to me, not to mention produce something I would not be ashamed to claim.

Learning about the areas that felt awkward to me, and training to become more proficient in them, helped to make me a more rounded writer. However, I can still easily identify where my forte lies. I am pretty good with character development, and have a knack for creating the world around my characters that readers can see and believe in. I also can describe action scenes in such a way that readers can see the action happening in their own mind, like a movie. I’ve been told that this is very similar to my personality. When talking with someone, and need to explain something to them, I go into great detail to make sure they fully understand what I am trying to say (sometimes to their chagrin). I use simple words, but long sentences. This is a trait that I realized fit my character. A desire to break things down as simply as I can, but to string them together in a way that makes sense – at least to me. I can see my philosophies, beliefs, and demeanor played out in the personalities and actions of my characters.

This is what I see as the Author’s Voice. It is unique to that author and is easily identifiable by their readers. Many new writers try to copy the voice of other, more popular authors, and while they may be able to emulate some of that author’s writing, the writer’s unique self does not come through, and the attempt fails.

Like an author’s speaking voice, their writing voice distinguishes them from all other authors. The voice is what comes across, in the author’s work, as the author’s attitude, personality, and character. They can be objective or subjective, emotional or rationale, intimate or remote, sober or whimsical, or any combination of the above. But whatever it may be; it will be unique to the author. How I speak, the words I use, the way I say them, the little flaws, and my personal idiosyncrasies; all combine to make my voice uniquely mine. And no one else has these exact same traits, so they can’t perfectly duplicate my voice.

I, and other authors, have a voice that distinguishes us from each other. It is what makes each of our writings different from anyone else’s, just like when we speak, our voices tell our listeners (readers) who we are.

In the end, the author’s voice is what they put into their work that no one else can do. It is their soul, woven into the pages of their stories.

I have shared what my voice says about me, but what about you? If you have found your own voice, please share with the rest of us as to what it is and how it impacts your writing. If you are still having difficulty identifying it, share with us your struggle – maybe we can help guide you or at least sympathize. Leave a Comment to share.

There are many different opinions on what constitutes an author’s voice, so if you have other thoughts, or just want to expand on what I said, please leave a Comment.


Posted on March 31, 2014, in or browse all books. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I like your take on the subject. Just recently, I started using a voice recognition software for my translations. That’s when I became extremely aware of the fact that my writing voice is very similar to my talking voice. Interesting…

  2. Great article Peter, and good point Cat. Many of the classic fantasy greats, like Narnia, are tailor-made for reading aloud, and that is definitely a kind of voice. I think my voice, if it has a flavor at all beyond its violet-hue, is a kind of rhythm you see in the old comedy routines. Straight line, straight line, punch-line, that kind of thing. Setting off the emphasis-sentence in a separate paragraph by itself, I’ve seen that before, particularly with descriptive passages, and sometimes in conversation. Verrrry interesting, as the guy in the German helmet used to say.

  3. That is funny, recently I joined some group discussions in Linkedin writers’ group. I, of course, comment a lot like I speak. I was told I had a unique voice they hoped to see more of my writing. I thought that was way cool, since I did not really think I had a voice yet. I guess this articles take on it is what they meant by the compliment.

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