Yah, I know that sounds strange, so let me explain. I see so many manuscripts that lack artistic flavor and have no voice. I’m not suggesting that every sentence be filled with poetic narrative, but some is nice because of the creative picture it places in the reader’s mind. If it’s creative, it’s memorable. If it’s memorable, it has voice.
Remember, we’re always skimming the shoreline for gifted writers, and I think colorful prose should be a part of every writer’s tackle box. For instance, you can say that it’s a cloudy day, or you can say that Mother Nature tripped and spilled a box of cotton balls across the sky.
Take a look at your writing. Are your descriptions ho hum everyday things, or do they have a bit of spice to them? Are you having a hard time thinking of solid similes or metaphors? This is when it helps to “see” like a writer – to interpret everyday life in a literary way.
For instance, it’s currently pouring outside, and as I look outside my dining room window, I see that everything is wet and drippy. Now, I could say that, and it’s descriptive enough. But I want to inject “voice” into my writing. So instead of wet and drippy, I use my literary vision and see drops of water clinging to the tree branches like tiny diamonds.
When I see cars trying to find a parking spot in a crowded lot, my literary vision sees armadillos scurrying about in search of their burrows. Yes, yes, Hemingway, it ain’t, but you get my drift.
This is the stuff that gives way to “voice.”
What’s voice got to do with the price of tea in China?
Okay, so voice has two meanings:
- Voice is the style and quality that makes the writing unique, and gets across the author’s attitude and personality. What is meant by this is that the writer has a unique way of expressing themselves in the narrative. It’s the Mother Nature tripping and spilling a box of cotton balls across the sky. It’s the diamonds hanging from a tree branch. It’s what make people say, “I love how that Brilliant Author writes, so rich and full. It’s what makes readers remember you.
- Voice is the speech and thought patterns of a character – and don’t let anyone tell you it’s first person only; that’s a load of bunk. This means that the characters have unique ways of looking at life and expressing themselves. It’s easiest to play with voice in the first person POV, but it’s just as easy in third person.
My point here is that seeing like a writer adds that unique prose, that voice, that make editors jump on their desks and squeal like five-year-olds.
Just because you’re not sitting at your computer writing doesn’t mean that the process stops. You can either watch birds fly around the trees, or you can see feathered balls of electricity flit across the rooftops.
Look at life through a writer’s prism. You just may see something far richer and more exciting than you did as a regular Joe.