Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blog Chain: The Voices in My Head

My characters are who I am when I'm alone.

Welcome to another blog chain.  This chain was brought to you by the fantastic Sarah.  This time around she wants to know:  How did you discover your particular voice as a writer?

Way to pick a hard topic, Sarah!  Character voice is that X factor, that intangible quality that means the difference between good and great.  For example, I really like Lord of the Rings.  But I LOVE the Hobbit. Why?  Because of the voice.  To me, Tolkien's voice in The Hobbit is much livelier, more authentic, and a blast to read.  LoTR reads more like a history book.

Whenever people tell me I'm funny, I always tell them that I'm not funny.  I'm boring.  It's my characters who are funny.  But I remember when I realized the truth about voice.  I was struggling through my first YA manuscript.  It felt stilted and boring and stuffy.  I picked up Stephen King's book ON WRITING.  There's a lot of good advice in that book but the one bit that set me free was to always be honest.  I can't remember what the exact wording was, but the short of it was to always be honest.  Never hold back.  If a character sees something and would puke, then let him puke.  Let them cuss, let them be authentic.

When I read that, I thought over it for a while.  I absorbed it and it really did free the voice in my head.  That YA book still sucked, but the next one, the one about a boy obsessed with porn, masturbation, and boobs who only had one day to live, is the one that sold.

I'm not sure that's helpful to anyone else trying to discover their own voice, but there it is.  Everyone's got a voice, they just have to be honest and set it free.

For more on voice, check out the pre-teen boy voice of the amazing BJ who wrote yesterday's post and then tomorrow head on to Cole's blog and see how many voices she's got in HER head (my bet's on 15).


  1. Great post. I completely agree with you about the Hobbit versus LOTR. I also have Stephen King's book On Writing, but I think I need to go back and re-read it again. It's a cool tool though, and I'm glad it helped you find your voice.

  2. What awesome advice! I think you hit the nail on the head. And I sooo agree with you on the whole Hobbit vs. LOTR. I'll have to check out that Stephen King book.

  3. Good post! I think voice goes hand-in-hand with character, so if your characters have honest reactions, your voice will be honest too.

  4. GREAT POST!!! Authenticity is so key...but more on that one later

  5. I'm better it's closer to 18 or 20 for Cole. :-) And they're all wearing Hammer pants.

    This is a great post. I agree with the honesty thing. You have to go with your gut in order for it to feel right. Your gut is where your voice lives. Er...uh...that didn't sound right.

  6. Great post! You're so right about the "X" factor. Finding your comfort zone and letting your characters do what they need to do is the difference between a rejection and a request. Period.

  7. Oooh, great post. I agree that you to have to be honest and not censor yourself.

  8. Nice post, Shaun. I very much agree that leaving yourself uncensored is a great way to figure out your voice.


Keep it clean, keep it classy, and jokes are always appreciated.