Friday 11 February 2011

"VOICE" - What Is It?

Voice - Most of us probably know what an "author's voice" is. However, there might just be a few out there who still doesn't know. I can still clearly remember the time when I first encountered the concept... Voice? Are they going to sing?! The utter cluelessness! Anyway, as far as I understand it, a "voice" is that distinct pattern that emerges when one writes. This pattern is particular to a person. It is as distinctive as a person's voice. That distinctness which allows us to identify that person even without seeing him/her, but by merely hearing that person's voice. A sort of similar distinctness emerges when one writes. This distinct writing style or pattern or whatever you want to call it, is what the term "author's voice" refers to. One does not have to write a book to have a "voice". If you've written or typed anything, i.e., blogged, then a distinct pattern or style of how you write things, emerges. I therefore must have a "voice", though I cannot see it. But I bet a lot of you can.

Here is a definition which might help us better understand what a "voice" is:
Writer's voice is an obsolete literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice was generally considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).
Source: Above definition of "voice" was taken from GetGlue at on 09/02/2011.

So, we now know what "voice" means... So what are the implications of this concept to the publishing industry? Are you a reader? A blogger? I bet you have an opinion... Please do share!

To start off with, I'll tell you mine from a reader's point of view and you can agree or disagree with me. In my years of reading I find that what "makes" or "breaks" a book is the story telling quality. And I believe that the "author's voice" is what comprises the story telling quality, or at least the major chunk of it. Of how well does an author tell the story? Some authors have a way of stringing words together and makes the story come alive. Some not only catch my interest, but draws me in so completely to what they are saying that the real world fades away. The authors I found who does this are Jim Butcher and Ilona Andrews. Some authors are able to paint a very vivid world with their words that it comes to life for me, I could almost taste it!  Anne Bishop is one such author. The genre therefore becomes a secondary choosing criteria. Genre only helps me narrow things down in a vast sea of books because if I don't narrow it down, it'll probably drown me. What I'm really looking for when I read a book therefore is how good the author's voice is. This, I believe takes talent. So I say:
Everybody has a voice, but not everybody can sing. Some people sing better than others, and then there are those who sing with undescribably good talent.


  1. Hmmm.

    Well, as a reader, I tend to "hear" what I read more than "see" it, so voice is especially important to me. A book with a voice that doesn't flow "right," well, it's like an audio clip skipping or something. However, if an author's voice does flow "right" for me, well, they're likely to have a life-long reader. I collect such authors' books and I re-read said books annually.

    As a blogger, I suspect my punctuation (I'm especially fond of parentheses, for instance) is a huge part of my voice. I try to write at the same pacing and with the same pauses, etc. that I hear in my internal voice.

  2. This is a great post. I know most people don't know about it. You did a great job of explaining it.

  3. Love that last quote! Thanks for sharing!

    Quitting My Day Job

  4. Amen. Some writers sing to me and some do nothing for me. It's not only about who can sing but how will that song ring in another person. Great post!

  5. Great post :) So true too.

    I wonder if I have a voice, a good one that is

  6. Great post! I love the concept of voice when it comes to writing... =D

  7. currently experiencing internet probelms :( ...will reply soon...

  8. Jo - I also tend to perceive the author's voice with other sensory perceptions other than just reading them. But I am more visual and tactile than hearing. I tend to picture what I read in technicolor in my brain than hear it. But like you, it has to "feel right" for me to be able to get into the story.

    Savannah, Erin, Blodeuedd, Larissa - thank you! :)

    Juju - I agree with you, Ju, the author's voice has to resonate with me or that book won't "make" it with me as a reader.

  9. Cherry this is very true. I have many books I enjoy, but there are those select few that draw me completely into their world, I would believe anything they tell me. :) Great post!


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