Seeing like a writer and gaining voice

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.

    10 Responses to Seeing like a writer and gaining voice

    1. catwoods says:

      Ahh, what a refreshing way to show us the meaning of voice. I think that’s one of the hardest skills to learn as a writer.

    2. Great post. I think if we all kept our writer’s eyes on…the world would be so much more furn.

    3. Suzanne says:

      Thank you for the inspiration. I shall endeavor to think like a writer, observe like a writer and BE a writer in every moment.

    4. elenaramirez says:

      I like your analogy, to think, and see, and express, out of the box of the norm….
      I guess thats why I like to write, as a Christian writer, I want to express the goodness, and the mercy of my Lord. For he is kind and he brought me to a new place in my life. A place where I see truth. I see the difference, from before I knew him, and now. For I once was truly lost, but now I have been found.

      Thank you, and many blessings. In your gift and calling.

      Elena Ramirez
      A Prayer of Hope devotional

    5. elenaramirez says:

      Wow, so you publish? I would love your insight. But, i have to add this, because I checked out some of your information, that I am not a “religion” writer. I am a person, who writes about therelationship, that I have with God. Anything else, is religion. (Rules made by men or organizations)


      Elena Ramirez
      A Prayer of Hope Devotional

    6. Karen Gowen says:

      Speaking of voice, I have to say that I just finished The War of the Rosens, and was completely entranced by it, by the brilliance of the writing, and by the author’s ability to make her characters live on the page. I got it at the library, but now plan on purchasing a copy so I can open it up at any point, at any time, and revel in the beauty of the language.

    7. Oh, Karen, I’m so happy you read this brilliant book. How can anyone not love little Emma for her tenacity and innocent search for meaning to the tougher issues of life?

      J’adore Janice Eidus, and it’s not just because I’m lucky enough to have her as one of our authors.

    8. Learning about Voice in Fiction…

      There are two types of voices in fiction writing: the author’s and the character’s. I’ve struggled with knowing how to separate the two, and at the same time, worried that I don’t have either, and particularly the first type. So much has been written ….

    9. lbdiamond says:

      This is wonderful! I’ve been looking for this! Thank you! It gives me inspiration to get back into revisions! 🙂

    10. […] to Behler Blog in their post “Seeing Like a Writer and Gaining Voice” there are two types of […]

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