In March I'm teaching a workshop on voice for the NECRWA conference held in MA. I'm excited about presenting and hope that I do a good job. Well not just hoping - I'm also doing my homework so that it comes out well.
I chose to do a workshop on finding your voice for a couple of reasons. There's been a lot of talk about voice lately. What is it, how do you get it, how do you recognize it? I think I have a fairly distinctive voice. And, I as I use a fairly natural voice, it was easy for me to come by it. So I'm passing on some small pieces of knowledge about writing. It should be fun for me and my audience - we'll see.
The thing about voice is that it can make or break your story. You can have a really great story - plot full of twists and compelling characters, but if you bore the audience with your style it won't matter. A good story is not enough. You also have to tell it in a compelling manner.
Just think about the books that you've started and put down before finishing the first chapter. Do you remember much about them? Probably not. Were the stories themselves "bad" stories. Probably not. After all, a good writer can make the grocery list a good read. Most likely it was the writing itself that failed you. The voice didn't grab you.
Think about books you love. It could be that the plot was spectacular, but most likely it was the way in which it was written that caught your attention. The words the writer used. They way the story was put together.
There's more to it than that, of course. There always is. But I'm willing to bet you forgive a lot of mediocre writing if the voice of the author speaks to you.