Today's topic is developing your VOICE.
When I go to conferences, read agent/editor blogs, or read tweets, I often hear these words, "I'm looking for characters and a story with a distinctive voice." What exactly does that mean?
It think voice is the way you put words together and the unique way you express yourself. It's the way you look at the world, the way you show your personality, or the way you communicate ideas. I can tell an author's book by their distinctive voice. I can tell a Stephenie Meyer from a Brandon Mull, or a James Patterson from a Stephen King. Each writer has a certain cadence to their writing. That's their voice.
Characters have voices as well. When you read a novel with multiple main characters, each one has a certain flavor to their dialogue, a way they enter a scene or leave one, and even how they relate to other characters.
For example, in "The Mortal Instruments" series, the character, Jace, is sarcastic, vain, and very confident. Jace doesn't walk passively into situations. He commands attention on the page, and he gets it. For example, in a scene from City of Fallen Angels, Clary comments to Jace that he's usually amazing at all kinds of Shadowhunter skills. Jace calm and coolly responds, "I was born amazing." This is so Jace. No other character could pull off that line but Jace.
The same goes for the character of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. She is brave, bold, and selfless. I instantly know when I'm reading a Katniss scene or a Jace scene.
It's hard sometimes to find a character's voice. I like to first find a picture that can inspire the character's face in my mind, then I write several situations without action, just the character talking. Sometimes I'm surprised at what comes out, but that's how I find my character's voice.
How do you develop your VOICE?