28 September 2009

What Do You Sound Like?

Fluffy pink elephants with shiny toenails, it's Monday already. And I didn't post on Friday. Oi.

Anyone got a spare vial of Organisation they want to loan me? No? Pity.

First up today, thank you to everyone who's asked (very interesting) questions! If you haven't asked a question yet, take the opportunity now to head down to last week's post and ask me a question. I'll answer them all on Friday :)

Today, a revisitation to the concept of voice. If you don't follow Liana Brooks's blog(and you should!), you might have missed this awesome article on voicethat she linked to. It's by a food blogger, not a writer, but it's still pertinent - and more, the advice it gives, I'd just done the day before I read it!

Confused yet? *grin*

The advice that Garrett gives is to get someone else to analyse your voice for you. And oddly enough, that's exactly what I'd done the day before I read the post.

Voice is a tricky thing, and it's often hard to pinpoint what your own voice is. On the other hand, it's pretty easy to recognise other people's voices. I can pick up anything by any of my writer friends on Critique Circle and know right away who's written it.

One tends to be sparse on description. She abuses commas horrendously, the genre's either sci fi or smart alec fantasy, and the characters are all cool-headed and logical. Everything's a puzzle to be solved.

Another I can tell because everything is tinged with darkness; there are descriptions that range from lush to sparse, but underneath it all there's always the sense that something is just about to go wrong. Her characters are usually emotionally torn, often abused, dwelling in the grey spaces between life and death, good and evil - and fighting back against the world to protect themselves or those they love.

A third I can tell right away because of the sheer awesomeness of the world building, the slow, meandering narrative, and the melodramatic, snarky wit of the main characters. Her characters have

So what about me? How do people know they're reading my work?

Well, I've only asked one person so far, so it's not exactly widely research. If you're a reasonably regular reader of my writing, feel free to comment on what you think my voice is like in the comments ;)

But according to the one reader I questioned, this is how she knows she's reading me:

"Your characters tend to be softies. They're people that look like easy marks and push-overs, but wind up having a core of steel. The humor tends to be present but light; cheerful. The darkness in most of your work is either very sad or comical; your books are the kind that don't make readers reach for brain bleach, snap at people, or feel worse after reading."

*grin* I don't know about you, but I'm pretty happy with that as an analysis of my work at present. And it's true: I can't write a depressing ending to save my life. Nor do I want to, really. I like to read books that make me feel like they were worth reading, tha I've learned something important from the process, and that my life will be better and enriched because of it. For me, books with depressing endings don't meet any of these criteria, so it's little wonder I don't write them.

So, now it's your turn! You have options: Either hunt down someone to give a quick paragraph comment on what they think your voice is, and post it in the comments here, OR if you've read some of my work, you can comment on my voice.

Either way.

But it's quite surprising how much you learn about your writing from this exercising - trying to characterise others' voices equally as much as getting them to characterise yours.

So, what's your voice sound like?


Danyelle said...

I have no idea. But I know it when I "hear" it. >.<

I'm not sure how good I would be at dissecting your voice, but here goes. I love it when you sprinkle your stories with humor (Bystar comes to mind.) But if I had to sum it up in one word it would be crystal. There's something polished and clear about your voice. It's beautiful and soft, glints in the light, but is solid underneath. And it tings. ;-) It reminds me of a beautiful chandelier somehow. :D

Beth said...

My voice? I don't know. I'd be very curious to hear what other people have to say. I know that I talk rather simply.

As for /your/ voice: I've only read a few things of yours, TBAEO being one of them.

There are a few people I lump together when I see their writing. You're not one of them. (Gah! I'm bad at this.) I can say what your voice /isn't/: Brooding/depressed, angry, manipulative...

Really, your voice strikes me as positive and lightly comical bordering (perhaps... sometimes) on satyrical--though not dark. Light.

I stink at this whole analyzing thing, but there's my penny's worth.

Captain Hook said...

Please don't take offense! But from reading your work, I'd say your voice has a childlike naivety. Not in a bad way, just that perpetual optimism that most people outgrow as life ages them.

Just out of curiosity, I know the first CCer you mentioned and I think I know who the third is, but who's the second?

Danyelle said...

I'm curious to know who they are too. :) I know who the first is, and have a good idea who the second is, but am lost after that. :D

Liana Brooks said...

Witty but cheerful, even during the dark times. Soft with a solid core. Your characters can be pushed, but they don't break.

Optimistic, yes, but not naive. It's not wrong to be optimistic when you know you'll win in the end. Even if it does mean cheating.

And I don't abuse commas that badly! I just... discipline them...

Captain Hook said...

Oh, yes, you do, Liana!

Inkblot said...

Dany - Voice is so hard to describe - but thank you for such a beautiful description of how you see my voice :)

Beth - Ask people! Find out! That's what the exercise is all about :o) And you don't stink. You identified what you think are the key features. Thank you :)

Sarah - not offended at all! I like to be optimistic :P :) Thanks for your answer :) And I'll go reveal the writers now - I meant to do it in the current post, whoops o.O

Li - Oh yes. Discipline. *ahem* :D

Merc said...

Is the third voice description missing part of the last sentence? (I think I know who you're talking about though. ;))

Good post. Um... when my brain returns (I shipped it separately) I may, in fact, think about this topic of voice. :P

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