Just read M. Gray's review of Fallen on her blog. She didn't like the voice, and that got me so riled up about the issue of voice that I just had to write a post. I couldn't even wait for my last post to get to 23 lol, I have to write it NOW.
We've heard it a hundred times: Voice is of utmost importance in good writing. One of the key elements the agent or editor will look for in a submission is voice. It must be strong, clear, vibrant and true. Writers may labor over the query letter, writing long involved plot summaries, and miss what really helps to sell themselves-- voice. If your voice comes through in a query, you're way ahead of the game. Then if the narrative voice is strong and clear in the first few paragraphs of the submission, good chance the editor will keep reading.
We all recognize voice when we see it, hear it, whatever. There are certain blogs I never miss because I love the voice. There are authors I want to read again and again because I love their voices. Sophie Kinsella is one. Agatha Christie. Judy Sheehan. Stephen King in Misery-- loved the voice in that one. Voice is often easier to identify than to create in our own work, yet it's what must be mastered for one's writing to go anywhere.
Nothing frustrates me more in my reading than a weak voice. Weak voice = weak writing. Weak writing = huge disappointment to Moi. Not to mention the big question-- How did this person even get a contract in the first place?
Oh, well, nothing we can do about that. Better to work on our own skills than worry about how so-and-so got the big advance, right? So. How to make our voice stronger? There's really only one way-- write, write, rewrite and write some more. Okay, there's two ways-- read, read and read some more. And read lots of genres, not just your own, not just your favorite. Find new authors, find new voices. And keep on writing until your own distinct voice is strong and clear.
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart
"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf