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Question - Is it possible? : Writers' Block Party • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Question - Is it possible?

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
Sheri
 

Question - Is it possible?

Postby Sheri » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:33 am


Sheri
 

Question - Is it possible?

Postby Sheri » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:33 am

Hello all!

I recently asked this question of only one of the members here, but I would love to hear what the rest of you have to say!

Is it possible for a writer to possess more than one voice and more than one style?

Is this good or bad?

I find that if I step outside of my usual genre, I sound and feel like someone else. There is such a huge difference in my writing and personality to the point where someone who is reading my work and is familiar with it may not even recognize it as being mine.

I'm curious. Is it only me?

Please respond.

Sheri

jasipper
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RE: Question - Is it possible?

Postby jasipper » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:54 am


Jamesaritchie
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RE: Question - Is it possible?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Fri Feb 17, 2006 8:10 am

I think I agree fully with Joshua on this one. Voice and style are very different things. Voice, once you've found it, is very difficult to change because it's more of an instinctive, subconscious manner of writing. Style, on the other hand, is a whole series of deliberate choices you make with each story.

There are certainly a fairly large number of well-known writers who never change either voice or style, and every story they write sounds pretty much the same as every other story. This isn't always a bad thing, but it is very limiting, and often means the writer will be accused of writing the same book over and over.

I certainly change style often because I write in several genres, and, for me, each genre, and often different stories within a genre, depend on a particular style to work.

Again, for me, changing style means finding the voice of the character I'm writing about, the time period I'm writing about, and the mood and tone of the story.


Mood and tone are very important, and setting mood and tone means you have to change word choice, sentence length, pace, syntax, etc. When you do this, style is changed, because this is what style is.

Look at it this way. If I write one story with a Huck Finn type protagonist, and another story with a James Bond type protagonist, there's no way on earth the style of these two stories will be the same. Style must change here.

Voice, however, may be the same. If I change voice, and I can change voice, it must be deliberate. I must first know what my voice is, and then deliberately, consciously, carefully change it. I have done this on a couple of occasions when I wanted to write a short story that I knew meant using a different voice, but it's much, much more difficult to change voice that it is to change style, and it's much easier to slip up.

Gooblink
Major General
 
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RE: Question - Is it possible?

Postby Gooblink » Fri Feb 17, 2006 8:18 am

When I first started writing, I was confusing style and genre with voice, as well.

My personality is cynical, sarcastic and quirky. I do humor writing pretty well - Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, etc.

However, I write historical fiction, mystery, and paranormal/spiritual stuff as well. My voice is the same, though, through it all. I always write conversationally, can't hold back the humor no matter what, and I always use too many adverbs and adjectives.

I'm probably still confused on exactly what 'voice' is - for me it's hard to define, it just happens.

Jamesaritchie
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RE: Question - Is it possible?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Fri Feb 17, 2006 9:59 am

The easiest way I can explain the difference is that style consists of the words, syntax, sentence length, rhythm, etc. that you use to tell a story. Voice is the way you think, your beliefs, your attitudes, etc.

Style is how you tell a story. Voice is the story you tell, and your beliefs, attitudes, biases, quirks, etc. that make the story what it is.

Let's say you have this plot. A twelve year old learns his father is gay. Now, let's say you have two writers with styles you can't tell apart. They still won't write the same story. Each writer, if they're experienced enough to have found their voice, will tell a story based on what they believe, what they think, what they feel, what they have experienced in life. Each writer will in some way reveal how they feel about homosexuality and a dozen other things, even if these feelings are below the surface in the story. Each writer will seamlessly blend everything they are into the story.

Readers of these two stories will find styles that are nearly identical, but in the stories themselves, in the kind of people the characters are made out to be, in the internal dialogue, in the actions, in the narrative, in the resolution, the writer will reveal himself not in how he tells the story, but in the story he tells and the kind of characters he uses to tell it.

Voice is terribly important, but is also most often unconscious. Yet once found, and when used with talent, it's every bit as recognizable as style. Since voice is nearly always unconscious, it is usually repeated over and over, with the writer revealing the same beliefs and attitudes and biases etc. in his choice of story events, resolutions, character personalities.

Voice changes only as the writer himself changes. Such changes usually come slowly, and you can track them, if they exist, in following teh stories of a prolific writer.

But like style, voice can be CONSCIOUSLY changed by a writer who understands what voice is. It's much tougher to change voice than style, but it can be done, if you know what voice is, and in paerticular, what your own voice does to the fiction you write,

Sheri
 

RE: Question - Is it possible?

Postby Sheri » Fri Feb 17, 2006 8:51 pm

Thanks to all fo you for your input on this.

Yes, I have deliberately changed my voice, now that I disect it all but the sad truth is...after twenty-three years of writing, I guess I was still somewhat confused as to the very fine differences between the definition of voice and the definition of style!

In fact, I'm not sure I will ever be able to "perfectly" differentiate between the two of them.

This confusion doesn't hinder me in my writing so I think I will just let it rest for a while and I will just write. However, James, I do think you've helped to clear it up slightly.

"I thank you all!" Said the voice with style.

;)

Sheri


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