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  1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Is finding your voice a major ‘click!’ moment?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by OurJud, Sep 24, 2020.

    It’s just occurred to me, as silly as it might sound, that the single biggest reason I abandon all my attempts to write a novel is because of how contrived and vanilla my writing sounds to me when I read it back. I try to write like a generic ‘accomplished’ author - from the head and not the heart.

    For those of you lucky enough to have found your true voice, may I ask how much easier did the whole process become because of it?
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'll be interested in seeing the responses here. Personally, I haven't a clue. I don't try for 'voice' but I suppose I have one. But who knows where it came from.

    Maybe you've answered your own question...perhaps you're struggling to find voice because you're using too much 'head' and not enough heart. If you wrote what you REALLY felt, exactly as you would say it either in public, private, or to yourself, without censure or contrivance, what would it sound like?

    You have an interesting, and certainly not 'vanilla' presence here, when you write on threads, etc. Maybe try to tap into that?
     
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  3. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    This question was partly inspired after reading the first few paragraphs from Welsh’s Trainspotting. As you may know he writes that book in a thick Glaswegian accent which gives it incredible power and soul. I really should try and write how I talk.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    If you haven't tried writing the way you talk, it's worth having a try at it. I'd personally enjoy seeing that.

    Trainspotting is laid in Edinburgh, and I think Welsh is using that accent for his story ...which is not the way everybody in Edinburgh speaks. But you're right, it provides quite a punch. Lots of Scottish authors write various locale-based accents quite well. It's certainly colourful! :)
     
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  5. Lacy

    Lacy New Member

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    I personally spent a good couple of years trying to write my historical fiction stories like Jane Austen... Except I am not Jane Austen and modern writing is much, much different for the writing of authors in the 1800s. I soon learned this and tried to revert back to my original 'voice'. I wrote form the heart as best as I could and, while I was a bit rusty at first, I soon found that this method of writing, this way of being myself, was way better than it was when I was being a Jane Austen wannabe.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is it was a bit of a 'click' moment for me. And it made my writing much more relatable. Writing from the heart gives you a voice that you can identify and it's something to make your writing more unique. I'd definitely say it made writing easier :) It's still hard, sometimes, but I can connect with it and that's what matters.
     
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  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Well I never! Maybe it’s the subject matter but the language comes across as so angry. Have I stereotyped? I thought the Edinburgh accent was much softer?

    I’m such a plonker. I didn’t even know Edinburgh was so close to Glasgow. Maybe that’s why o can’t tell the difference.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
  7. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I think by easier I meant if knowing your voice allows you to write longer and gives you more confidence and faith that you can make it through that first draft.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I don't imagine you're the only person who thinks this. And there are many Glasgwegians who speak with a very low-key accent as well. Nothing trips people up faster than thinking there is a shared accent in certain towns, cities and areas of Scotland. Some accents are very identifiable to a particular place, others not so much. The entire Central Belt area has a similar kind of sound (differing from the Borders, the Northeast, and the Highlands, Islands, etc) often depending upon how much schooling the person has had. My husband was born and bred in Hamilton, and his parents were born and bred nearby (Larkhall and Motherwell.) But his accent is quite different from the usual 'Hamilton' one, because his speech was often corrected as he was growing up.

    Generally speaking the accents of Scotland vary more from north to south than they do from East to West, with the exception of the Northeast (Grampian, Moray, Aberdeenshire, etc.) And the Fife/Dundee region. But they differ all over Scotland. Sometimes it's more the vocabulary than the accent, but sometimes it's both. I expect it's a similar sort of thing down where you live.

    Coming from the USA, as I did, it was quite an interesting surprise to find so much variety in such a small place. The USA has regional accents, but there's usually a lot of distance between the changes. I think the longer an area has been settled and stabilised, the more ingrained the local accent becomes. My theory anyway.
     
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  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Oh, a writer's voice... What does that even mean? I'm not so sure and I'm also not so sure how important it is. About halfway through my MFA a professor came up to me after reading one of my stories. By this time, he had read several of my stories, but this was the first one that seemed to get him to take notice. He said, "You've found your voice! Now just write all your stories like this."

    I was thrilled for a moment. I had heard all about finding your writer voice and thought it would mean something. But the truth was I had no idea what he really meant. I didn't know what I had done differently. I still don't. I had tried to figure it out -- how the voice in this story was different from all my others. I wanted to write all my stories in a professor-approved writing voice. I was too embarrassed to ask what that meant and how to do it. I'm still sort of at a loss.

    I will say that story was published. And all the stories I've published have been written after that one. But I couldn't tell you if any sort of writer voice is the reason why. There are certain things I don't think about while writing, and my so-called writing voice is one of them. I don't think there's any sort of click and I'm not even sure how noticeable a discovery like that is.

    I do think our writing matures with practice. Maybe we sort of have to grow into our talent. I do know that the story where I (or a professor) found my writing voice had very clear and polished prose. I think an aim for clarity is probably better than an aim for voice, and, in the end, they might somehow be connected. I don't think there is any point in looking for voice without clarity. It won't be there or it won't be what it could be it the actual writing lacks clarity. My aim is always clarity.
     
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  10. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    There are two issues here: finding your "voice" and finding your "style." They're not quite the same thing.

    Your "style" is the product of finding that combination of the various styles of writers that best suits the particular task. I often use Tom Berger's Little Big Man to illustrate it. He employs two styles: in the preface and afterword, he uses the style of a polished and somewhat effete scholar, while the main body is in the voice of a largely unlettered man of the American frontier.

    Your own "voice," on the other hand, is an accurate representation of your own persona, your own speech and thought patterns. As I've mentioned elsewhere, one of my friends had been reading a how-to section of a book I've written, and told me that it just like I'd been sitting next to him, talking him through the process. My best representation of that is John Muir's How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, where he guides the reader through repair procedures with humor and insight of what the reader will actually experience, rather than simply listing the steps. As you learn the procedure, you also can't help learning about the man.
     
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  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Well, my professor said VOICE. And I honestly could care less what it means. Style. Voice. Who really cares? I still graduated.
     
  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's some illusive thing like "making it." ;)
     
  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    If I wrote like I speak, it'd all be gibberish.

    But a very well-accented gibberish.
     
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  14. Urocyon

    Urocyon Member

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    I don't know what "voice" exactly means to those educated in Literature, but I've always taken it as what seems a natural flow to the writer. As each writer is obviously different, I would think that attempting another writer's style would be quite a bit harder than writing in your natural voice.
     
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  15. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor Contest Winner 2023

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    I thought I knew what this was about until someone mentioned voice vs style, and that got me thinking. Do we confuse voice with style? My initial reaction was voice being the way it's written. Thinking it over, though, maybe it would be more accurate to say that style is how you write and voice is what you write about (as in, to speak about a topic or theme). Maybe I'm way off base...
     
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  16. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I think you’ve probably nailed it here, and it is in fact my own style I’m seeking. I suppose it would be more accurate to say I’ve found a voice, rather than my own voices.
     
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  17. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I feel like in traditional publishing, where agents are looking for first person narrative or third person limited, voice is the idea that the way the narration is written sounds like they way the main character thinks and views the world, even in third person. In either case, the writer is kinda invisible, beyond what they choose to write. They are still trying to make the voice reflect the character.

    Mark Lawrence is really excellent at it. "Red Sister" and "Prince of Fools" are such different books, and not just because the later is in first person. The whole narrative of Red Sister puts me in the kid's head, even though it is third. I don't feel like Mark Lawrence is sticking out in either.

    Some writers have a voice that sounds like them talking. Like in Malcolm Gladwell's "Talking with Strangers," if you have listened to him talk before, then you can read the entire book in his voice and it sounds right in your head. Same with Neal DeGrasse Tyson's "Accessory to War." They have their voices.

    But they are always them. That's a little different than writing third person fiction, or first, and making the narration sound like the thoughts of the POV character.

    One of my beta readers told me my "voice" came out in a short story the other day. That's the first time anyone ever said so to me. The main difference now is that I'm not trying so hard to use sentence fragments like Lee Child.
     
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