Madeline (M.M.) Gornell is the author of seven award-winning mystery novels. Her current literary focus is Route 66 as it traverses California’s Mojave Desert in her “Rhodes” series. Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries, and besides reading and writing, is also an occasional potter. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the High Desert. Visit her website and Amazon Author Page.
This is not a “how to post.” No, more like another one of my mental-meandering-around and thinking about writing posts. (Thinking about writing is often easier for me than actually writing.)
Once again, a Vons grocery store customer started me down the path leading to a post topic. A lovely lady I didn’t immediately recognize, and who after first saying Hi!–and without any segue of any kind—added, “I like your voice!” I certainly was at first confused; but after a bit more back and forth, I realized she was talking about my writing. Consequently, besides being really pleased she read my books, I was also sent down an “author’s voice” writing-memory-lane during my drive home.
- I had an English teacher in school way-back-when who critiqued one of my essays (must have stung because I still remember) that my piece had no voice.
- A paid editor once said, your writing sounds too much like you. You need to “neutralize.”
- On the maybe I can learn side, another teacher told me[i], your voice is much stronger than when you started this class.
From my perspective, I’ve closed books because I was not “in tune” with what I’m dubbing here as the “author’s voice.” I’ve also closed books because I’ve felt nothing. No voice coming through maybe? Purely guesswork, but I’m thinking the “magic mixture” of one’s literary voice is sentence structure, choice of word, lyricism, asides… All knowing Google says, “…Voice is the author’s style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character…” Indeed, my internet searches didn’t add much to think about.
Guessing again here, I think some of the same “things” that come through in our writing “author voice,” are the written equivalent expressions of a few pieces of our personalities. Likable or not.
I’m still pondering whether thinking about–or even just the acknowledgment of one’s writing personality is important. And sorry to say, I don’t think I’ve come up with any great answers. Yet. I do believe, despite any “hard-evidence,” your author voice is important to whether a reader enjoys your story—and whether they keep reading your book or pass it on. But I remain open on the question—despite what editors or teachers have said—whether “author’ voice” is an aspect of your writing you can improve upon or change. Your thoughts on the topic on “author voice” are greatly appreciated…
Happy writing trails—and may your voice be heard!
[i] This memory trail goes all the way back to Saturday mornings at Bellevue Community College Adult Education creative writing classes in Puget Sound. (circa mid-1980s!)