Posted by: victanguera | November 3, 2011

Voice: NaNo Prompt #1

Yep, I’m going to talk about voice. That dreaded topic amongst writers (especially us aspiring ones). It’s that one thing that seems almost impossible to quantify or explain. But when the voice of our story works, it compels us to write. But if the voice isn’t true, a story can die.

This year, I went in to NaNo with a nebulous idea. One sentence that became two. Together they even seemed like such an interesting… thing. The lines?

Two nights before Halloween, the power went out. The night before Halloween, they found the first body.

Okay. So that gave me a few questions. A character came out of that. And I started to write in third person because it fit. 1,800 words later, the story fizzled away to nothing. I just didn’t like the voice. Although the might wind up being interesting, the story came out as if I was looking at it through a telescope. Boring. The voice felt flat and inauthentic. As if I was trying to be some other writer telling some other story.

I did the unthinkable and ditched the idea. Second day of NaNo. It isn’t too late to start over. Right?

I thought about other ideas that bounced around in my head. And came to the conclusion that I write and what grips me as a reader all comes down to voice (yeah, I’m a slow learner). I’ve read almost every genre out there, so could draw from multiple areas for inspiration. But if I try to write mystery/thriller, the voice doesn’t work for me. For me, it is too distanced from the character. Who I am, how I view the world, the little inside snark that yells at people for their bad driving–that fits Urban Fantasy better.

I’ve come to the conclusion that how we view the world is part of what makes our voice work. We may write from inside the head of someone else, but our own viewpoint will always affect the words that result. That when we try to suppress our own viewpoint or world perspective, the words on the page become no words (on the page or in the head). At least for me.

So how about you? How do you perceive the world? How does that change how you write about a character? Do you believe in happily ever after? That the world will end tomorrow in a zombie attack? That bad drivers should be put in the time-out chair and taken off the roads? Go, give yourself permission to let your personal ideas influence the characters you choose and how you write about them.


  1. Uh, oh… so what do my stories say about me?

    …the fact they’re full of mentally unstable, morally devoid, obsessive, scary weirdos…

    damn, you’re trying to insult me with this post, aren’t you?


  2. Err, I wouldn’t say so. I’ve got a blood-sucking fiend in mine. And an absolute bastard. Looks like the next one is shaping up with equally lovely characters. Mwah, ha, ha.

    • Oooohoooohoooo!

      …now you’re just taunting me…


      …so hungry…

  3. Yeah, unfortunately my first drafts don’t come out in a palatable form so you’ll have to wait for revisions before I can feed you.

    • It will be worth the wait 🙂

      especially if you send an appetizer my way 😉

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