Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A to the Q: Voice

A to the Q is an ongoing series of posts in which I answer questions I've received from blog readers, workshop students, and others about writing and navigating the waters of children's publishing. My aim is to share what I know and spark your search for even more information.

Q: I read your posts about voice. Can you give a definition? I'm a little confused by the different descriptions of voice I find out there.

Put simply, voice as a literary term describes an author's writing style. Your voice plays out — in your writing — through your unique use of tone, syntax, dialogue, character, and story development. It's apparent in a given piece of writing or across your body of work.

Every author develops a unique writing style and voice. Yours will emerge with writing practice. The exercises I highlighted in my Finding Your Voice series (see links to all in Part 3) can help you connect with your natural, everyday, non-writing voice. The one that plays in your head.

Tapping in to that inner dialogue can go a long way toward helping you find a comfortable writing style, one that isn't forced or assumed (as an identity) when you sit down to write. You don't want to "put on" your writer's voice — you want it to come through naturally.

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