V is for Voice

DA7FDEA6-D87E-47FC-961A-A03636C901ACI’m so confused. Everything I’ve read about being a writer talks about finding your voice. I’ve never really understood what that means.

Someone told me that publishers and editors are looking for writers who have a distinctive voice. I was once told that I have a distinctive voice. But I was talking on the telephone to the person who said that.

So what, then, is voice when it comes to writing? I’ve read that finding your writing voice can be a struggle, whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction, or a blog post. No shit, Sherlock.

Your writer’s voice is supposed to be something that is uniquely your own. But what does that really mean? What the hell is writer’s voice? And how can you find something when you’re not even sure what it is?

Is it your style of writing? Is it your tone? Or is voice something else entirely?

According to one article I came upon, “voice is not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches a writer’s oeuvre.”

I’m sorry, but that didn’t help at all. “A writer’s oeuvre”? Seriously?

Another article said that “your tone, choice of words, choice of content, and even punctuation make up your authorial voice.”

But some articles I read suggested that voice, tone, and style are entirely separate elements.

“Voice and tone reflect your attitude about your subject and your readers. Voice is who the readers hear talking in your writing, and tone is the way in which you are doing the writing. The tone of your writing can vary with the situation, while the voice — the essential, individual thoughts and expression — is still your own.”

And what about style? “Style is a technical term for the effect a writer can create through attitude, language, and the mechanics of writing.” The writer’s style is based on choices about diction, syntax/sentence structure, detail, dialogue, literary devices, and rhythm. Does the writer use simple language or complex language? Is the language concrete or abstract?

So it seems to me that a writer’s voice may be based upon elements such as word choice, sentence patterns, subject matter, and attitude.

Well, I’m sorry. Even after reading all of these articles, I still don’t get what voice is. I understand style. I get what tone is. But voice? Uh uh.

I guess it’s good that I don’t fancy myself to be a real writer. Or maybe I am a writer, but with a perpetual case of laryngitis.

17 thoughts on “V is for Voice

  1. Complainerella April 25, 2018 / 5:41 am

    This gave me a good chuckle for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 25, 2018 / 6:35 am

      Nothing like a good chuckle, is there? I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. newepicauthor April 25, 2018 / 7:18 am

    I would say that you have a strong voice, because you do well in writing Flash Fiction where you need to make every word count. I don’t think that I have a voice, because I am all over the place and there is no consistency throughout the posts that I write. I feel that the best writing just comes out naturally and you are always able to grab your reader’s attention, thus you are a great writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jrose88 April 25, 2018 / 11:01 am

    I took a writing class on voice once. The professor and I got into a continuing argument about fanfiction, which I am all for as a writing exercise. She argued that it was merely taking on the voice of other creators and not exploring my own. But how the heck are you supposed to figure out what your voice is if you don’t have meaningful examples? For me, the iconic example is Douglas Adams — because I spent so much time writing Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fanfiction. For a while, I had the Adams voice down pat. I’m still not able to articulate what my own voice is, but I wouldn’t exactly be able to describe his either. It’s not something you define, it’s something you feel. Rhythm, content, it all blurs together into this thing that you kind of only identify from a distance, as an afterthought.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marilyn Armstrong April 25, 2018 / 12:53 pm

    It means that you write like you talk and what you write about are the same kinds of things you talk about. I don’t know about you. You certainly COULD have a voice, but I think you are too worried about someone actually hearing you say something personal … so you cut out all the stuff that is “you” and put in humor and politics and other pithy stuff. Which is fine for non-fiction and other journalistic stuff, but if you really are looking for your voice — and I don’t think you seriously are looking — that’s not how you’ll find it.

    But you know, it’s alright to NOT be “the novelist with the voice.” There’s a lot of writing in this world to be done and many of us do it. It doesn’t need to be a novel or a short story. It doesn’t need to be a story at all. Maybe it isn’t about finding your voice. Maybe it’s all about figuring out what you really want to say.


    • Fandango April 25, 2018 / 2:16 pm

      You’re right, I do try to avoid getting too personal, but, on the other hand, I do write like I talk (especially when writing flash fiction) and I often write about the same things I talk about. And I’m all about “humor and politics and other pithy stuff.” So maybe that’s my voice. Or maybe not. I still can’t quite put my finger on it.


  5. cagedunn April 25, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    The publishers will call the ‘piece’ a demonstration of voice, but if you’re a writer, think along the following lines:
    The ‘voice’ in your story is your character: they better sound real and unique and not like you (unless you want them to).
    The style you use reflects what you’ve learned about how to tell the best story for ‘that’ piece.
    If you’re not writing fiction, you can put your voice into everything you write and just be you, stylishly and vocally and anything else you like.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sight11 April 25, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    So do tell me If I have a voice. Since you’re my Sensei?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 25, 2018 / 5:39 pm

      I suppose you do, but I’m still not sure what a writer’s voice actually is.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ghostmmnc April 27, 2018 / 8:08 am

    You’ve said what I wonder about all the time. I’ve read what ‘voice’ is supposed to be about, but for the life of me, I still don’t get it. I’ve been told I have a recognizable, distinctive, unique voice in writing, but I can’t see it. Maybe you have to be someone else to see it in someone else. You can’t try to make your writing be a certain voice, it just happens, and you yourself can’t see it. Well, anyway, I like that you’ve wrote about this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 27, 2018 / 8:15 am

      Thanks. Even after writing this, I still don’t know what voice is. *sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

  8. leigha66 April 27, 2018 / 9:21 pm

    I too am lost on what my voice is… if you ever figure out a way to find it let me know, ok?

    Liked by 1 person

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