Voice. That elusive part of writing. The part that distinguishes one writer from another. Voice is hard to nail down, but once found, brings a uniqueness to one’s writing.
So what happens when your voice doesn’t match your genre?
I write fantasy. When most people think of fantasy, they think of J.R.R. Tolkien. His voice is eloquent, lengthy, lyrical, and full of description. Many fantasy writers share a similar kind of voice. It’s the standard when it comes to this genre.
However, my voice is different. I discovered my voice after writing Daughter of Light, the first book in my epic fantasy series. My writing voice is blunt, short, and to the point. I tell the story in a strong, quick tempo, moving along at a clip pace. Not the style usually employed by the average fantasy writer.
A couple reviews reflected the fact that some readers did not like my voice. They wanted the poetic sound usually found in fantasy.
I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to try and change my voice. I believed I needed to write in a certain way in order to be a fantasy writer. It was like trying to write a square word into a round story. It didn’t work. In fact, those scenes stuck out so bad that my editor called me on it. He gave me the freedom to be me, and to write like me.
So I tossed out those scenes and went back to writing like Morgan.
After reading an article Ralene Burke wrote about voice, I realized even more how important it is to embrace my own voice. Not only is voice my style of writing, it encompasses the stories I write and how I write them. No one can write the stories I write, in the manner that I write them. When I write a story, I draw on the things I have went through: parent’s divorce, death, loss of jobs, loss of house, cancer scares, months of wondering how we will survive, deep depression, and emotional wounds dealt by people.
Through all my life, even in the darkest times, I found hope. And I clung to that hope like a life thread. Through my writing I explore the darkness and how to find hope.
My life and my writing style have formed my voice. To not be true to my voice would be the equivalent of not being true to myself.
Sometimes I don’t like my voice. I wish I could write eloquent prose, running along with beautiful descriptions, long colorful sentences, and dialogue that sounds more ancient.
But that’s not me. I’m Morgan and I will write in Morgan’s voice. After all, I’m the only one who can write my stories 🙂
How about you? As a writer, have you discovered your voice? Did you like it or did you wish you could write like someone else?