Writing Voice

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by arron89, Jun 26, 2009.

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  1. A.V.K.

    A.V.K. Member

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    Write for yourself, but like anyone who wants to become better at something, be open to criticism and be willing to improve.
     
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  2. Malina

    Malina Member

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    Yup, that's exactly what I fear. I can't count how many times I've rewritten my novel already, the only thing that hasn't changed from the original version is my main character (though he was a she for a short while). Middle school me didn't care much for LGBQ characters or POC representation or a lot of other stuff like that, but I thought my writing was deep and reflected world problems well. Yikes. I can see now what I couldn't before, but it makes me wonder how much I have still left to see.
     
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  3. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Write for an audience!
    If you're a storyteller, what else is there? Engage the reader, manipulate their emotions, grab them by the throat!
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    You need more than one beta reader. Get a consensus from, say, 10 of them, and you'll have a better idea of how you're doing.

    If your beta can give you a specific example of what she thinks ought to be changed, that's also a help. If she's a fellow writer, ask her to re-write a paragraph or two, just to illustrate how she would have preferred it to be written. It might jog something in you. (OR it might make her realize that your way is actually better.)

    I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting lots of beta readers to look at your work, not just one or two. If there is a problem they all pick up, or a problem most of them pick up, then it probably is a problem. If it's a problem only one person has, it's worth thinking about. But maybe it isn't something you really need to change.

    (I'm presuming here that you do want to reach readers with your work. If you truly aren't worrying about other people's reactions, and your work satisfies you, then just carry on regardless.)

    I seem to have missed something, or I'm picking you up wrongly. Do you WRITE in English? If you do, then as soon as you've been here long enough to satisfy the requirements, then post your work in the workshop. Lots of people will weigh in with opinions, and you'll have more to go on than just one beta's reaction.
     
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  5. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Been there. I'm on the extended LGBT+ lists (A for asexual/aromantic) and my initial outlines were nowhere near as anti-bigotry as I thought they were :(
     
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  6. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    @jannert is 100% right here. Different people want different things out of a story. I Look at Story structure, Imagery, and Theme pretty heavy. Some people look at subtext. Other people will look at POV breaks. Other people will just focus on Grammar and word choice. I have one beta-reader who just looks at the love scenes in my story.

    As for your original question, if you want your work to be read and enjoyed by others then you need to write for the audience. This is not to say you can't put your own enjoyments into it (I write about sex and horror because that is what I enjoy. Other people enjoy that stuff as well.), but you have to keep the reader in mind.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    -OJB
     
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    This link states, better than I have, the primary problem with writing sites (and why I don't post stuff for critique, usually, unless it is some throw-away writing).

    Not that writing sites don't have a lot of benefits that outweigh the problems. They do, which is why I'm on them, but one constant I see across sites (from some quarters) is a push to make every writer sound the same:

    http://kriswrites.com/2016/02/03/business-musings-serious-writer-voice/
     
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  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Remember when I said....? :bigwink:
     
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    OMG, and this bit right here, how many times have I used this analogy???

    All the tools that writers should have in their grammarian’s toolbox—the tools that make writers “sound” different—well, most writers don’t know they exist. It’s as if writers try very hard to build a house using a hammer, nails, some wood, and a saw. No screwdriver, no wrench, no metal, no PVC pipes, nothing. Just the same four things over and over again, whether they fit or not.
     
  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Thanks for sharing this insightful, if not a bit long-winded article. :)
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I liked that article a lot. And it made me aware that I also am guilty of dishing out advice that is probably 'workshoppy' ...even though I don't go to workshops. The one I'm most guilty of is the head-hopping one. I'm not a fan of head hopping, because I feel that while it gives a more complex picture of what is going on in everybody's head, it's not what happens in real life, so the reader is always kept at arm's length and struggles to identify with any one particular character. However, I can also say I've occasionally read books where head-hopping happens, and it works fine. (Just read a Terry Pratchett book where headhopping occurs a lot.) It all depends on the effect you want.

    I think what writers should pay attention to is the consequence of each choice they make. Then fearlessly choose what works best for each writer. And to hell with people who say you shouldn't use an ellipsis, or write a prologue, or use adverbs, or employ conjunctions in narrative, etc. If you want to change POV or make a scene change without putting in the blank space, then fine. Just be aware that the reader MAY be confused, unless you're skillful at keeping things straight.

    Head hopping? I'm still not a fan, as such. But if it's done mindfully and not inadvertently, then it can work, can't it?

    I must say I really agree with her observation that so many stories and novels seem to be written in the same voice these days. That when you go back, say 30 or 40 years, this wasn't the case. Maybe we should study less and read more? Dunno.
     
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    She also points out the grave mistake to be made in engaging these concepts as rules. It seems like semantics whenever I bring it up, but I am convinced it's not. Using that word is a trap. It alters the way we engage these things and gives rise to all the BS that starts us into the conversations concerning them in the first place. Vicious circle. Vicious.

    There are no writers who "break rules". That's a fallacy. There are only writers who do or don't know what their tools will do. That's it. That's all. Thinking of a given writer as someone "who broke all the rules and wrote a great novel" is a mistake. It's erroneous. It also devalues the skill on display. That writer is a writer who knows her tools consummately and deployed great skill in the end product. That's the way to look at it. Think of it that way and suddenly all the exceptions that people LOVE to point out fall into place.
     
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  13. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Interesting.

    And of course I agree since it feeds into my hobby-horse of "effective/ineffective writing" instead of "good/bad writing". If it works, it works.
     
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  14. Malina

    Malina Member

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    It'll be a bit of a struggle to find 10 betas for my novel. I started writing it before I was fluent in english, so it's in my native language. Now I write most of my stuff in English, so I'll post it here when I can; the first novel remains a problem, that's why I reached out to you (a good choice, that).
     
  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I can think of several writers who broke all the commonly accepted rules and wrote a large pile of steaming tripe that somehow got a collosal book deal anyway... fifty shades of grey springs to mind :D
     
  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Because her writing was effective. It did what she wanted it to do (with readers, not just with financial success). So why is it steaming tripe?
     
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  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Fifty shades - seriously you have to ask ?? - it was commercially effective pretty much due to the shock value of its subject and bringing BDSM to the masses (although I've heard that those actually in the BDSM community hated it) but it lacked any sense of plot or direction, or effective or believable characterisation - it basically sucked on pretty much every level.
     
  18. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    Speaking just for myself, I have to agree with both of you @big soft moose and @BayView . Yes, the book was effective, but it was only so because of the shock value of the content moose noted. I tried to read the book but even back then (when my critique-eye was not yet schooled) I hated the style and couldn't force myself to read past the first hundred pages, because it was so badly written. I can only conclude that the commercial success it had was because of the content.
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    There were a lot of other equally or more shocking books well before 50 Shades...
     
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  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Indeed, the Marquis de Sade himself wrote several - one difference between him and EL James was that he could actually write ( I found "Justine" readable and disturbing in equal measure)
     
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  21. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I read the whole thing , but I agree the writing was a trial, to be honest if it wasn't for the hype I wouldn't have made it past the first page , where it opens with her brushing her hair and nothing of any consequence actually happens at all, and a hook is conspicuous by its absence
     
  22. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    The difference was that at the times of MdS the publishing industry and marketing wasn't around. If it had been, well who can say what would have happened? ;)
     
  23. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I don't recognise this at all, either in published or unpublished works. I see other parts of the article are being discussed but IMO it was all based on a false premise.

    Especially this:

    She obviously reads very, very different things to me!

    Edit: Keep finding more stuff to disagree with.

    It's one of my bug bears when writers say that. Yes, of course readers care about "that stuff". They just don't have the technical jargon to identify it. You won't find casual reader reviews talking about head hopping, but you will see them talking about confusion. You won't find casual reader reviews talking about POV depth, but you will find them saying they didn't care about the characters.
     
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  24. Arcadeus

    Arcadeus Senior Member

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    LBGT+ Character are honestly the best for shock and awe/humour character. I don't generally use them for a main character because I personally lack that point of view, but as side characters, I feel I am capable of using them without offending anyone too strongly. lol
     
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  25. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Would you react well if I said that straightness only existed in my stories as a punchline?

    (I'm obviously being hypothetical about this am perfectly willing to treat my straight characters as being just as important as everybody else, but what if I wasn't?)
     
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