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Intro Music by Fretts!

Our intro and our outro music is Your Government Loves You and Wants You to be Happy, by Fretts! If you love it as much as we do, you can find more beautiful music at fretts.bandcamp.com!

Voice in Writing.

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What We’re Drinking:

Kulshan Red Ale. Kulshan is a local brewery that makes some very lovely beer. Today we’re drinking their red ale, which is one of my preferred beers of theirs. It tends to be heavier on the malt than I usually like but I find it well balanced.

What We’re Saying:

Today we’re talking about voice! There are three kinds of voice in fiction, generally speaking.

Authorial voice is kind of slippery. It happens in your writing without you trying to make it happen. It is just how you write. You can’t try to write your voice, and in most cases you can’t detect your own voice when you read, because it’s going to just seem normal to you. You can control how much of your own voice appears in your writing in a couple of ways. You can attempt to mimic another author’s voice, and you can edit voice out. Kind of the less you mess with you writing, the more voice will be in there.

Narrative voice is the tone, theme, ambiance, etc of your story. By which I mean it’s all of those things put together. By which I actually mean that it includes all of those things but is something else besides. Each of your stories is going to have a slightly different voice, even when they’re in series. I’m writing a prequel to my novel that has a very different feel than the novel, but involves similar concepts and themes and some of the same characters.

Narrative voice is much more under your control in the writing process than is authorial voice. It has to be; you need to tailor it to fit the story that you’re telling.

James influences the narrative voice in the piece that he’s writing by carefully choosing the music that he listens to while he’s writing. I’m more visual, so I tend to think of the voice of a story in terms of colors, images, or in terms of how a movie is shot.

Character voice is the third and probably the most exacting kind of voice that you’ll need in your writing. Character voice refers to how a character talks and in limited points of view, also how a character thinks. Even the tone of the exposition when writing in limited points of view will contain character voice.

So these voices, these qualities in your writing, come through in the variations between your writing and someone else’s writing; the variations in one story as compared to another story. It appears in the differences between one character’s point of view and the point of view that you use in the next chapter. And when you edit, those variations tend to get stripped away. This is because formal writing, in accordance with rules of grammar, tends to be all the same. The goal in this kind of writing is to make language uniform. Uniformity is what makes language universal and understandable.

But the differences are where the beauty lies. And a lot of those differences are considered grammatical flaws. So the more you edit, the more of your voice you’re going to strip away. You can edit a piece of prose to death.

We all have unique voices, and in terms of authorial voice you cannot see it or deliberately write in it, which makes the feedback “I love your voice!” particularly unhelpful.

Your voice will change as you write. It will be influenced by your life experiences, by things that you read, by films that you see, and by unspoken lessons that you learn while writing.

Your voice rocks. Go find it and use it. Write more, read more.

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