What is Voice?

Agents everywhere are always saying they’re looking for voice, but they can be annoyingly vague on what they mean when they say that. For the next few weeks on my blog, I’m going to be focusing on voice. I want to start off the discussion by talking about what exactly voice is.

The simple way of putting it is that voice is the thing that makes the narrator of the story sound like a real, distinct person.

One time I stumbled across a blog by my friend. It sounded exactly like him. So much so that I read it in his voice. When a story has good voice, I read it in the character’s voice rather than my own. I can think of a scenario and imagine not only what they would say, but how they would sound saying it. That’s good voice.

Good voice is powerful, because it makes the reader feel like they know a character personally, an impressive feat since the character isn’t a real person. Because character is such an important part of voice, we’re going to be focusing a lot on character development as we talk about voice. Check back for characterization exercises and examples of voice from published books.

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2 thoughts on “What is Voice?

    • Well I would start by buying a tub of ice cream. When I’m editing, my least favorite thing that I have to tell authors is that I don’t like their tone or voice, because it’s really hard to fix. Also, sometimes it’s just a matter of preference. But if you get similar comments from several editors, I’d pay attention. See if you can figure out what about the tone might not be working. Does the character come off as snobby? Oblivious? Helpless? Whiny?

      Sorry, that’s probably not super helpful. Good luck! Sometimes you just need to write through these sort of things.

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