Monday, October 29, 2012

Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Voice

Greetings everyone. Before I begin my post on 'Voice,' I want to take a moment to let you know that due to NaNoWrite Month, I won't be posting in November except for the Insecure Writer's Support Group on the first Wednesday, the Oh How I Miss You Blogfest on the 16th, and on Friday's to bring you an update on my writing progress. No, I won't be participating in NaNo. I have five short stories I'm working on, two children's stories for my grandchildren that will be published at some point and the sequel to my epic fantasy. I did consider it, since I have a new idea that I want to develop into a novella series, but I think I have more than enough going on just now. As for when any of these stories will be available, I'm not sure. Some of my critique partners are participating in NaNo and I don't think they'll have time for me.

Now on with my post on 'Voice.'

I have posted previously on voice, but not in connection with short stories and flash fiction. Every writer has 'voice.' Don't wonder about yours. It is inherent with who you are. You may start by emanating your favorite author. But eventually you will find your own way and your voice will come through. Any writer tool such as, 'Show Don't Tell,' past tense, present tense, first person or third, back story, action and description are all part of the trade. How you express them in your story is your 'Voice.'

Several years ago I was helping a friend with critique. Which means I was reading their manuscript and making suggestions on how to improve. I often give examples when I do this since I think it is easier to express what I mean by example. This writer had a lot to learn. (No, current critique partners, I'm not talking about any of you.) It took me a month to get half way through the manuscript before the writer became impatient and asked for it back. After reading my notes, this writer shot off an email telling me she didn't want to sound like me. It was then that I realized she had confused 'Word Economy' with 'Voice.'

As I said in last week's post, 'Voice' is not the same as 'Word Economy.'

'Word Economy' is a tool like any other that you use to save on duplicate words, unnecessary sentences, telling the story instead of showing the story, and so on. If you missed my previous post on 'Word Economy' associated with short stories and flash fiction I have a link at the end to go to all my related post so far.

So, you ask, "What is 'Voice?" I know it feels confusing if you are new to writing. The best example I can give you is your own speech patterns. If you are from the south in the USA then you will have a southern droll. Some phrases are natural to you. If you come from Britain, you won't sound anything like I do since I'm an American. If you come from a place where English is a second language to you, then you will have a peculiar accent that reflects this difference when you try to communicate with a person who is not from your region. The same is true of 'Voice.' Don't be ashamed of this difference. You have a rare gift to express what another writer would find difficult to do if not impossible. Furthermore, your life experiences define you as a person and will shine through in your writing. Once I heard someone say; "The story sounds like them." They hit upon an important point. Our stories do sound like us. We can't help it.

So, be brave, go forth and write!

I hope this helps.

For all my short stories, flash fiction post go here.

All subjects and stories are copyrighted, use with permission. 2012


Jamie Gibbs said...

Good point; I've got an idea for a story set in my city during the 19th Century, so it's likely to have some weird phrases and nuances that need to shine through. I'll have to give it a little more thought :)


T. Drecker said...

A nice, clear explanation of something which seems to be the secret ingredient in the writer's stew :)

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Jamie
You are right! I forgot about time periods which is an important consideration when discussing voice.

Hi T.
Thanks for the compliment. I think I was a teacher in my former life. Wait, I don't believe in reincarnation. Hope that doesn't offend anyone.

Thank you both for stopping by and leaving a comment.

LTM said...

You're so right about voice and speech patterns. Maybe a little improv acting helps? And hey! Best to you with Nano! :o) <3

Yolanda Renee said...

Great information. Voice and word economy are very different and learning all the tools is a new writers confusion, posts like this help tremendously.

Congratulations on your WIN with the Romantic Friday Writers! Great story!

N. R. Williams said...

Thanks. And no I'm not doing NaNo, to much on the platter as is.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Voice is like personality.
You will be busy with writing next month!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Alex
You're right on both counts.

Trisha said...

Writers have voice, and their characters can have different voices too. I love to see a great combo of both. :)

Happy November to you! I am a NaNo participant ;)

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Trisha
You're right about that. Good luck with NaNo.