VOICE – Write it like you’d say it

Posted: February 19, 2015 in graffiti living
Tags: , ,


A bit back I asked you to see if you could guess what it was about the opening lines from different novels that made them so wonderful.

The answer is voice – that’s what pulls you in and makes you want to keep reading.

It’s not something concrete that you can always put your finger on, but it is what will rock your reader’s socks every time if you have it.

It’s also your newfound secret weapon for making it through writing sessions with maximum quality and word count.

There are two main voices in the novel — the voice of the protagonist and the voice of the narrator.

There’s also the implied narrator (the impression of the author that the reader gets from reading) but you don’t need to worry about that just yet — not if you want to get to the end of a writing session with your sanity intact.

It’s easiest to judge the effectiveness of Voice in first-person novels for obvious reasons.

If the author manages to pull it off, like a method-actor, and convince you that the voice is authentic then you’ll keep reading.

You can also use it just as effectively in other novels, as was shown in the extracts that I posted up here.

Voice is a big subject, and there’s loads that I could say about it, but I’d still be writing about it long after the cows came home.

So instead I’m going to give you a VERY SIMPLE technique to use.

A strong voice will keep you reading like nothing else. We love stories and we love to be told them.

Forget what you hear about “Show, don’t tell” (it’s good advice but often misunderstood and gets in the way of your natural storytelling ability) — when you were little did you ever say “Please SHOW me a story”?!

So, that’s what I want you to do. I want you to TELL the story. And I want you to tell it using the most powerful voice that you have — your own.

For first-person novels: Unless you already feel like you’re the main character and speak like them and in fact ARE them (in which case the men-in-white-coats are standing by), you’re going to have to wing it.

Instead of pretending to be the main character and trying to put on their voice parrot fashion, I want you to imagine that YOUR VOICE is the voice of the narrator.

For third-person novels etc: For the next few days, YOU are Charles Dickens.

Forget about trying to sound arty or interesting or literary, just tell the story in your own voice, in exactly the same way that you’d tell it to your friends.

Whatever type of novel you’re writing, put down what you’d say if you were telling this story to someone close to you.

Imagine you’re in a pub telling your best friend if that helps.

Stammer, swear, repeat yourself, get over-excited, repeat yourself — I’ve said that!

Any time you get stuck, or write yourself into a dead end, say, “No, that’s not what I meant at all” and carry on.

Tell it like it is. Just use exactly your voice, your words, your way.

What could be easier than telling the story exactly how you’d tell it? (don’t answer that, I can already hear you thinking of witty and sarcastic replies).

Just try it. Not only will it lead to some scarily good writing, it will also send your wordcount through the roof — which at this stage of the game is exactly what you need.

  1. Verge Le Noir says:

    Fantastic reads on here, keep it up. Following.

  2. bZirk says:

    I think you will do it! And I’m not the cheerleader type. It’s obvious you can write and have something to say.

  3. RAFrenzy says:

    Stubborn can be a great thing. I’ve run more than one successful business, and stubborn had a lot to do with it.

  4. bZirk says:

    I am really enjoying the blog. Keep it up!!

    • Hey you! Thanks. You’re very kind. I’m convinced no-one reads this blog but I’m stubborn and I’ve already committed to posting ‘something’ every day for this year. After that, I’ll probably kill it. The posts are deliberately short, mostly just scraps from my writer’s notebooks. I’m delighted if anyone reads / enjoys them but I understand if they don’t. Last year, I wrote every day. This year, I’m blogging every day. Who knows, maybe one year I’ll write something worth reading or even getting published.

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