Thursday, January 19, 2006

What's an authors voice?

What is an authors voice?

How many times have we heard people in the publishing industry talk about how they love an author’s voice? Or readers talk about how much they love a certain authors writing. For the longest time, I didn’t understand what that meant. Even as reader, don't you find an author you simply love, and you're not sure why? It's probably their voice you love.

Now, ten books later, I’ve learned to honor my voice… but the question is… what actually IS an authors writing voice?

Webster's Dictionary has 5 different definitions of voice...

Main Entry: voice

1 sound produced by vertebrates by means of lungs, larynx
2 a sound resembling or suggesting vocal utterance
3 an instrument or medium of expression
4 wish, choice, or opinion openly or formally expressed
5 distinction of form or a system of inflections of a verb to indicate the relation of the subject of the verb to the action which the verb expresses

Wow, that’s a lot to swallow. Can I break that down?

Simply put, I believe an authors voice is THEM; how they think, how they feel, and how those emotions are weaved into their writing. I think this is probably why most of us authors are so insecure once we put our work out there for review, because, deep down, that book, is about us, and written with our voice and our emotions. It’s a little piece of us.

I remember my first re-write letter. It was six pages long. I scoured through it, underlined, bolded, tried to wrap my head around how I was going to change the book to please and satisfy the editor and give the publishing industry what I thought it wanted. After much musing, I found, there were just things about my book I didn’t want to change; things I considered… my voice, so I didn’t. I changed what I could and sent a letter explain why I wasn’t changing the remaining. It worked fine.

So who's your favorite author voice and why? What is it about their books you love so much?


Blogger Bec said...

Hey Rae,

I find I don't have a single favourite. I have different authors whose 'voices' suit my different moods.

Amy Tan will always always give me that wistful, faraway feeling of being in another place.

Nora Roberts and Maeve Binchy create the best and most realistic characters with the fewest adjectives and descriptive passages I've ever seen. I love them for it and love their characters more!

Robin Hobb guarantees me a great science fantasy novel and creates settings and moments so real I fall right into them. So does Garth Nix in his Old Kingdom series for that matter.

Then of course for nothing but light entertainment there's Clive Cussler. I would drag that Dirk Pitt off to bed with me so fast he wouldn't have a chance! And Ian Rankin, because I love a good murder/cop story.

LOL...but I've read some great other books lately. The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, Colour - Travels through the paintbox by Victoria Finlay, Outback by Bill Bryson and just last night I finished a book that made me laugh, chuckle, grimace and giggle. It's called Kitchen Confidential by a chef named Anthony Bourdain.

Phew...that's it...I think!

5:43 PM  
Blogger Rae Monet said...

Great stuff, Bec. Yeah, different voices for my different moods, it's the same way with me. If I want edgy, I'll read J.D. Robb, but if I want great romance/sci-fi I'm off to grab my CJ Barry books.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Rae Morgan said...

Voice, that elusive how do you define it aspect of writing. Since it is elusive, I'll not try to qualify it -- but just I know what I like when I read it. LOL

Oh and I'd love Dirk Pitt in my bed. What a man!

Rae Morgan

8:17 PM  
Blogger Pamk said...

That's me I have different writers at different times i like to read. And am always looking for new ones that go on my have to read everything they wrote list. lol
Not sure how to describe it except that their authr voice has to mesh with my inner voice.

9:48 PM  
Blogger snowflake said...

I would say emotional, warm, witty and sensual. Like Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught, Sherrilyn Kenyon.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous XandraG said...

It's hard to identify a "type" of authorial voice that is my favorite, because there are times when I want falling-down funny and very down-to-earth, and other times when I want something darker and more evocative, to draw me into such a fantasy that I have to remind myself of where I am.

I think what really matters is that the voice of the author is honestly felt. I can't explain quite how, but I can tell sometimes when an author isn't fully comfortable in his or her voice. But I do know that when an author has found a voice of their own, it's almost as if the words weave themselves into the fabric of the story, and there's that much less of a veil between reading the story and experiencing it.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

I agree with Bec. Well said. And, Amy Tan rocks!

LOL! Rae @ Dirk in your bed. DITTO to that, girlfriend!

12:14 PM  

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