Friday, March 15, 2013

Writing: The Writer's Voice

Note: Just received word that Romantic Times Book Reviews has given my forthcoming novel, Stress Test, 4 1/2 stars (its highest rating). Here's the review.

Since I began writing, I've heard the term, "writer's voice." I've finally stopped trying to define it. I can't tell you why I recognize the physical voice of my wife, or son, or daughter, while I can't tell you what is unique about each one. I've about decided that "voice" is like a giraffe--I can't exactly describe it, but you know it when you see it.

I'm reading a book written by another author chosen to carry on the tradition of one of my favorite writers, the late Robert B. Parker. I've read two other books by writers Parker's widow chose to keep the line of novels alive, and frankly, wasn't impressed. They didn't have Parker's "voice." The one I'm now reading, a western, is better, although there are places where it's obvious that the writer has chosen to show off how much research he's done--something of which Parker was never guilty. The book may be pretty good, but it's not a Robert B. Parker.

I've just completed responding to an extensive set of edits of my novel that will be released this fall, Heart Failure. The line editor did a very thorough job of suggesting areas where the novel could be tightened, the wording improved. The edits were valuable, but at almost every juncture I ended up changing her words to mine. Why? The insertions weren't in my "voice."

Do your favorite authors have a unique "voice?" Can you define it? Or is it, like a giraffe, something you can't describe?

2 comments:

therealmotherlode said...

Yes! Voice is everything. When Parker died, I mourned the loss of Spenser, Susan and Hawk too.

I hear Kinsey Milhone (Sue Grafton) as clearly as I hear my husband's voice. (My husband might have different ideas. ;) )

My current addiction if James Patterson's Alex Cross.

Happy sigh....hearing the voice of beloved characters keeps me coming back for more.

Richard Mabry said...

Theresa, I hear you. Hate to hear the voices of my favorite authors stilled (Robert B Parker, Ross Thomas, Donald Westlake, etc), and hate even more when others try unsuccessfully to reproduce them.
Thanks for your comment.