Yeah, so, that headline is a clever attempt to tie this post into Halloween. In case my efforts are obtuse, mask=costume=Halloween. I know, I know, a bit labored. Except that writing voice is an important subject. (Along the same Halloween theme, last week I wrote about Fear and Focus.)
And writing voice is a topic that sometimes causes writers angst.
Because everyone wants a unique voice. Every writer wants to write in one, and every agent and editor wants to discover one. After all, there's really nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes, so the ability to write in a fresh way is truly important.
However, like all desirable things, voice can be elusive. You put words on the page and they sound blah and dull. You despair. You wrestle with the words a bit more and they sound even duller. You despair some more. And then slink off for a little nip. Thus ending your writing session.
Ah, but it doesn't have to be like this. There are ways to encourage your natural voice to come out. How, you ask? Let me tell you how I think it naturally arises, in a two-step process:
1. Glumping, as in glumping it all on the page, letting the words flow out of you in a mad rush. This can actually seem counter-intuitive to finding your voice, because let's face it, when you write like this, sometimes what comes out is crap. But within that dung are jewels to be found, and these jewels continue glimmers of your true voice. The more you allow yourself to write, just write, the more these tiny glints of voice will shine.
2. Honing. After the first draft, wherein you glump, you write another draft and another. As many as it takes to get the story right. And then you get to the point where it's time to tinker, when you are looking at every single word and every bit of grammar. This is where you polish your voice. A wonderful editor, Chris Reardon says that "writers smother their voice in ineffective writing habits." Those habits would be things like using a lot of adverbs (I, myself, am the queen of them), writing in passive voice, using cliches, and so on. Learn what your bad habits are and edit them out.
As you can see, the process is one of expansion and contraction. You throw the words on the page and then you go through and edit every single one. And, most importantly, you remember always that these are two very different processes and keep them separate.
Et voila, a sparkly, shiny voice will appear.
Do you worry about voice? What do you do to encourage it?
Photo by clarita.