Monday, August 03, 2009

Voice? WIll I know it when I see it?

Vicki here on Monday. What a great discussion on writing character. I’ve got plenty of ideas for my workshop at the Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival on August 15th.

Now for a word from our sponsor: there are still a few tickets available: AND I have just found out that it is possible to take a ferry directly to Wolfe Island from Cape Vincent in the U.S. which must cut the travel time down a lot if you are coming from Western New York.

I love riding on a ferry. I believe that a vacation isn’t a vacation unless there is at least one trip on a ferry, no matter how short. To go east from Prince Edward County, where I live, you can take a ferry (to the west and centre there are bridges). It’s only about 5 minutes long, but makes for such a nice trip. Even in winter it’s fun to see the boat breaking a path through the ice.

One of the guest authors at Wolfe Island this year is David Rotenberg, author of the Zhong Fong detective series set in Shanghai. David is an acting teacher and has worked on Broadway and in TV and movies. I am very interested in talking to him about how his approach to coaching actors ties into writing character.

I’m struggling a bit with the idea of ‘voice’. I can’t get my mind around what it actually is. Different writers have a different way of writing, just as different people have different ways of speaking, (Yeah, babe as opposed to Yes, Madame) but I suspect that voice is something beyond that. Character voice I understand – that would be the example above of two different people speaking.

What good is an individual voice, if one writes completely different books? I hope that the tone of the Klondike mystery series is completely different from the Molly Smith books and from my standalones. Does an author’s voice remain constant, or does it change depending on the book and the type of book?

I started off this post deciding that I was going to discuss voice as I understand it. Then I realized that I really don’t understand it.

Can anyone enlighten me?


Donis Casey said...

Donald Maass called it the author's "authentic self", which makes it seem like it would be the same from book to book no matter what you wrote. But I don't think so. I think you can write books with totally different settings and tones, and yet call on something true within yourself. I have a series with a rather humorous, backcountry protagonist, and I've also written a book with a sarcastic, somewhat depressive main character, and been told on separate occasions that they both sound just like me. I wonder if most authors aren't able to get in touch with their inner schizophrenic.

Rick Blechta said...

"Can anyone enlighten me?"

Yes, I can.