I plunged into my weighty writing excursion in 2013. I’ve read article after article about all that’s entailed to hopefully writing a book with some sort of success.
One category of information pieces I came across early in my search for knowledge was centered around the writing voice. Several articles were advocating how to find, create and enrich this tone in a piece of writing.
I do understand why the word “voice” is used to describe the difference between one author’s work from another, even when both pieces are so similar, but there are some aspects about this element of the craft that I have a completely different perspective about.
First of all, I have grave doubts that the term, voice, adequately describes what this segment of writing is. I propose that the word to use be personality. This is what pops out to the reader when she or he dives into a book or some other written work. It’s even seen or felt with text books. Did a group of writers get together and decide on the term, voice, so they could feel superior to those of other careers? Were they telling people, “You need to have that special voice in order to be successful as a writer,”? If they had said, “You need to make your personality show in your work,” there’d probably be more people trying their hand at the craft. Let’s face it. Writing is speaking with seen words instead of ones heard. What a person says can tell another something about that person’s personality. The eminence of writing isn’t there when using the term, personality, for the simple reason everyone has a personality. Writing loses some of its lofty stature.
With the term being changed, a writer doesn’t have to find this element in her or his writing. Whatever that person writes is going to reek of her or his charm, nature, self, et etcetera. It just can’t be helped.
Creating a personality exclusively for writing? Can this be done? Possibly. I mean, the nicest of people who are actors will take on the roles of villains–and be successful at it. The most prude of actors will get in front of a camera and act unbelievably slutty. Still, it only makes sense that the basic psyche of the actor will shine through despite the personae she or he is portraying in the film or play. I assume the same is with writers. In my current WiP, my main character isn’t what someone would call a heroine. She a little off the wall and has some serious mental issues–the kind that create problems for others. Still, because I’m the one writing this character, my personality will be seen in her even though I’m not the type to let my problems get into the lives of others so rashly and without any concern.
I do think an author can enrich their personality for what is shown of her or him in writing. All human being change through the course of their lives. No one is exempt from this. What we learn through life’s experiences change us constantly, either for the better or the worse, depending on our perception of all these instances. This is one area where we can choose the angle in which we receive all this knowledge and how we will use it in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
Does the basic personality change? I don’t think this is possible. However, I think the personality can expand and what was once an important aspect of it can switch to a smaller piece of the pie. As our knowledge increases, segments of importance shift.
With this in mind, I question the amount of ability we have to enrich our writing personality. We might just have to go more with the flow of how we change over time, both in our lives and in our writing.
All in all, no, I don’t think a writing can pick her or his writing voice. We can only accentuate certain qualities and diminish others. Even then, I don’t think we can be totally successful.
“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” ~ John Jakes