Voice: we all have one.
It's as unique as our fingerprints, almost impossible to replicate and one of the many things I love about books: the author's voice.
Voice, style, flare, whatever you want to call it, every writer has a distinct way of getting their story across.
Voice is what makes certain authors auto-buys for me.
Voice keeps me turning pages deep into the night when I should be sleeping.
Voice can make me laugh, smile, even cry on the odd occasion.
Lately, I've been doing a fair amount of judging, hence the choice of topic.
Writers, take note: even if your plot has major holes, your conflict is weak and your characters need a good kick in the pants to make them head in the right direction, if your voice is strong and captivating, the rest can be fixed.
Plots can be strengthened, conflict tightened and characters placed firmly back on the straight and narrow, but you can't fix voice.
Here's a little story.
An old uni friend of mine, who I hadn't seen in years, contacted me after she read several of my books. She thoroughly enjoyed them but the thing that really struck me was when she said 'reading one of your books is like sitting across from you at the cafeteria table and hearing you tell stories.'
(Looks like I was a bit of a chatterbox even back then!)
That really hit home. It told me I have a voice. A voice I've been told is fun, flirty, witty and modern by various editors. A voice I stay true to, no matter what series I'm writing for.
Here's another little story.
An author recently said her voice had been diluted and weakened by a critique group she joined and it took her much longer to get published. She reworked a manuscript so much according to suggestions that her voice was lost. When she subbed the original manuscript years later, it sold. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing critique groups or partners in any way, but don't forget that each critique is one reader's opinion. And in the end, it's the editor's opinion that counts.
So the moral of these tales?
Stay true to your voice.
Work it. Hone it. Polish it.
That's my 'write whisper' for this week.