Finding Your Voice

Finding your voice in writing can be a difficult thing at best. I recently wrote a first draft, which turned into fifteen drafts, that I am conflicted over in regards to voice. While I feel the story doesn’t need changes, members of my children’s critique group didn’t like the voice I chose to use. It’s the story of an eight year old boys worst Thanksgiving told by him, but from his adult perspective. It suits the story. However, those that didn’t like my “voice” felt that it would be better suited for a magazine. There were others who loved it and thought that areas needed to be tightened up. 

I don’t want this to turn into an ego-fest. However, when I mentioned this to my friend John, he said “critique is best given and taken in when one has no ego attachment to what is being shared.”

Those are the wisest words I have heard in quite some time.

I am open to constructive criticism and appreciate it. It makes me a better and more determined writer. Yet, the voice thing bugs me. Does all picturebooks geared to the seven to ten year old HAVE to come from their voice? Why can’t it come from an older voice looking back?

All writers have a story to tell. We are always looking for ways to make those words that pour forth from us on a daily basis unique. Why? So that we can achieve our Holy Grail–the publishing contract.

I don’t know what it will be, but I am letting it sit for a month or so. This one particular story that it. It needs a break and I need a break from it. I feel so strongly about it and have never said that about anything else I have written. It is eloquent–those words I borrow from my critique group–something I have never thought to attach to anything I have done.

So, today, I am contemplating my voice and how I vocalize my writing. It’s time to head to the library and do some research. Tomorrow, I will give myself a birthday treat and head to the bookstore to read and drink coffee until my hearts content. Maybe I will be able to rationalize my voice conflicts with the works of others.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Your Voice

  1. I usually write in the third person, so the voice of my narrator is a neutral, omniscient voice. However, I do take great pains to try to give each of my characters a unique voice when they speak in dialogue. I think that a character’s speaking voice should be an extension of that character’s personality. Indeed, carefully crafting a character’s dialogue is the easiest way of creating that character’s personality. If the character is extroverted, then she will talk a lot; if she is introverted, then she won’t say much at all. If the character feels angry or happy or sad, those feelings should find expression in what the character says and how she says it. And I try to give my characters their own “catchphrases”: words and phrases and cliches that they rely on again and again in conversation (a vocal crutch) — just as real people tend to say the same things over and over.

    In your case that you describe, I wonder if your first person narrator’s personality is the same whether it is the narrator’s older or younger self who is being described? Sure, one’s older self will have a larger vocabulary and will construct more sophisticated sentences, but the personality that is expressed probably shouldn’t change too much.

  2. Happy Birthday! Spoil yourself — you’re worth it. As for voice, I think you’re on the right track: put it away for awhile. Come back to it with fresh eyes. If you’re impressed, like, “Wow! I wrote this?!” then you know you’re on to something. If you blush and gaze downward w/ sheepish eyes, then you know you were simply in love with the sound of that voice — and not what it did for the story in specific. Trust your inner writer.

  3. I’ve never heard that child lit needed be narrated in a child’s voice, on a child’s level yes, but the voice can be anything you want. Whatever suits the story. It all depends on delivery.

  4. Finding your own narrative voice can be a life long endeavor. Perspective might vary from book to book, but a good narrative voice will stay with you like a warm blanket.

    Just keep writing, never give up… You will find that right voice, or it will find you. No worries.

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