Monday, 8 April 2013

Finding your voice



Al Alverez talks about the idea that when you read a novel the voice tells you a story. We all know how important it is as sometimes in rejections letters you find the response ‘the voice just wasn’t strong enough for me.’ ‘I am looking for a really strong voice.’ ‘Your story just didn’t come alive.’ Getting a strong voice is really important as you become a writer. When you start writing you become a bit of a tart. You try on lots of different voices, fall in love with them and then equally as quickly disregard them and move on to the next. These voices might be influenced by books or poetry you are reading, favourite films. But you need to find your own and while you hone your craft your voice will become stronger. Have faith. You will begin to trust your own voice rather than copying others. This is when your story will start to come alive. But voice is not straight forward. It consists of lots of things.

There are times when I am marking work when everything is on the page as it should be. There are characters, a story line and a setting, but it still feels flat. There is no life to it. I don’t experience the story as I read it. And that’s what I want. I want a story that draws me in so I forget that the rest of the world is happening. When it works, for that moment I am lost in between those enticing pages. As I mark I will often write things like: show not tell, point of view, tone, get rid of the authorial voice, give me a sense of place, let me know your characters. Getting these right will help you start to make your story come to life.

The editor, Beverley Birch says, “'Voice' is so much more than tone of the writing and what the characters actually say.  It's a web of impressions, speech, and thought, and perceptions, and physicality, and a whole lot more. It rises from the writer’s subconscious, but it is also something that has to be worked at, refined, honed, made apt and truthful.  It's instinct and inspiration, but also craft and technique...it requires boldness and exploration, and a finely tuned ear for the detail.”

Nobody can give you a voice, but we can give you the tools to help. If you are interested, Beverley Birch and Imogen Cooper are doing a workshop on the ‘voice’ entitled ‘Through the Narrator’s Eye’ at the end of April as part of Golden Egg Academy. Check it out here.

Or if you don’t want a full workshop perhaps book an editorial surgery where we can talk through some of the issues of voice. First surgeries are in London on 11th May. Check it out here . Scroll down below the in-depth reports to find where you can book.

And just because it seems like a beautiful day to start writing and finding your voice

8 comments:

  1. Brilliant post, Ness - one of the best I've read on voice - this one's a definitely a keeper and is going into the file! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you Nix, am pleased it made sense xx

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  2. Beverley shows this really well in her novel Rift, so rich you can taste the dirt. Great post Ness

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    1. That's very true Kathy. Am glad you liked it too xx

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  3. Excellent post, Ness! And very timely as I ponder this very subject myself!
    xxx

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    1. Hope the pondering is successful Sue x

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  4. I love Beverley's definition, that voice is a 'web of impressions...'
    Thanks Ness:)

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    1. I agree, voice is so difficult to define but I think Beverley gets the closest I have heard for a long time.

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