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I Have No Voice

June 27, 2012

I’m thinking about a writer’s voice and I’m confused. I’m not confused so much about the difference between passive voice and active voice and that sort of stuff because I sort of have those straight. I’m confused about voice in the sense of a certain writing “style”. What is it and where’s mine?

I know a lot of people are comfortable with their “voice” and their output but I’m not one of them, and the more I think about it the more I start to believe that a writer’s “voice” is maybe a myth and nothing worth thinking about because the “voice” is nothing more than what the particular story we’re writing at the time needs. In other words, we don’t bring our “voice” to the story, we give the story a voice. It’s not us, it’s the story. For example, if we’re kind and law-abiding and peaceful people and we’re given an assignment to write a story about a heartless outlaw, we don’t write as us, we write as our character(s).

Can we do that? I don’t know. Maybe, for whatever reason, we can’t, but I don’t think the reasons we can’t are because of a particular “voice”. It may just be because it’s something we’re not comfortable writing about.

I suppose someone could say that a writer can’t write about something he doesn’t know, so in order to write about a heartless outlaw the writer would have to have at least a spark of that character’s essence as part of his own personality but I don’t agree with that because actors are pretending all the time. With every role, real actors are taking inspiration from some source and showing us something new so why isn’t that the same with a writer’s “voice”? Why can’t a writer take inspiration from someone or something and write a story – any genre – and have our “voice” be nothing more than one of the tools we use to craft that particular story?

What do you think about a writer’s voice?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2012 12:47 pm

    I tend to agree with you. The story itself has a voice. The writer crafts that voice but it can and should be different for each story, otherwise everything you write will feel the same and that will get boring very quickly.

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  2. June 28, 2012 10:24 am

    I believe you have a voice, it may be a strange voice (LOL) but you have it. The best any of us can do is keep writiing. It will be the next generation that decides what kind of voice we have. Probably some tenth grade teacher speaking like she has the authority of all the world backing her and she will tell the students exactly what you mean. It is a shame that you won’t be able to be in the room to learn just what you did think. 🙂

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