Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: writer’s voice

The Writer’s Voice ~ More Than A Certain “Style”…

The six words in the image are Qualities of a writer’s Voice. Writer's Voice

Like most concepts in writing, “Voice” is somewhat slippery…

Are we talking about some “feel” we get from every sentence a writer uses?

Are we talking only about the 3rd person P.O.V.—since individual characters could well have completely distinct voices?

That image of Voice Qualities is a screen-shot from the video below…

Julian Treasure is the man speaking (he’ll explain each Voice Quality) and he’s talking about the voice we use when we speak.

But here comes more of that slipperiness I mentioned up there:

“The action or an act of uttering with the voice” is a definition of the word “Utterance“.

Another definition of that same word is “That which is uttered or expressed in words….written statement or expression”.

Here’s another screen-shot from the video: Avoid These In Your Writing

These are what Julian says we should avoid when we speak, if we want others to pay attention…

I feel these six Qualities should be avoided at all costs in a writer’s 3rd person P.O.V. [though, every “rule” can (and will, eventually) be broken]; plus, certain characters in a story may manifest these qualities with great force…

Some of you may be doubting my sanity in relating these concepts to the craft of writing…

Yet I am a writer and I find using the tool of Analogical Comparison, applied to other arts, is a valuable source of learning in my art—painting and music are also great for this creative-borrowing of tools…


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Sorry for the interruption :-)

The last screen-shot from the video shows what I’ll call Inner Qualities of Writing. Inner Qualities of Writing

These are what I feel a writer would do well to develop in their private Relationship with their Readers…

This borrowing from the art of speaking-so-others-pay-attention may strain your ability to use Analogical Comparison; but, give it a try—Mr. Treasure will help you in the video…

By the way, if you think “analogy” and “comparison” are just two words for the same thing, try considering the phrase, Poetical Comparison; or, Imaginary Comparison—and, yes, I’m being slippery with words—but, then, I am a writer :-)

And, if you absolutely can’t relate to my Slippery Analogical Comparisons, you may just find yourself having to use your physical voice in a situation where it critical matters that others want to pay attention………

Enjoy The Video—this man truly practices what he preaches…

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Revisiting The #SocialEra

Doing Social Media or being present on a Social Network can be part of the #SocialEra.

Or, not

#SocialEra is the digital way to refer to some core ideas from Nilofer Merchant—“the Jane Bond of Innovation”.

I first wrote about Nilofer in my post, #SocialEra ~ The New Model for Book Promotion.

Two other posts about her ideas are:

The #SocialEra Is Much More Than Just “Social Media” . . .

How Do Writers Find Their “Voice”?

And, in an interview with Nilofer on Forbes, about her book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, the interviewer introduces herself with:

“I’ll admit it: I hate business books…There’s only so much ‘seamless leveraging of synergistic core competencies while maintaining brand integrity and mindshare in the value system of the new economy’ that I can take before the urge to set the book on fire becomes too great, and I risk violating deeply-held principles I have about book-burning.”

Then, before the interview-proper, she goes on to rave about Nilfoer’s book

Yes, Nilofer Merchant’s book can be called a “business book” and she is an Innovator who’s almost always talking about businesses.

So, some of you who are writers might wonder at my giving her so much space here (including videos in those past posts).

Well, I’m a writer and I can’t count the times I’ve learned something about how to write by paying attention to singers, painters, salespeople, religious figures, drunks in bars, and certain business people

Getting back to #SocialEra as it relates to Social Media (and “most” writers find “some” need to engage with Social Media), Nilofer has an article on her site called, IN A FRAGMENTED WORLD, GO DEEP, where she begins talking about using Twitter, then says:

“For an introvert like me, actually, it’s draining. It is the opposite of grounded connection. Online, I am never alone with my thoughts for a decent stretch of time. Even when I have an empty calendar, I can have activity going on because I allow Twitter to be in the background. At first, it was like music — nicely humming away but not distracting — but now I’m realizing it’s like a dinner party with each person getting louder and louder as the wine flows.”

A bit later in the article, she says:

“…you could do the opposite. You could go deep. You could be that voice that everyone listens to because when it speaks, it is so deep and rich that it’s worth slowing down to listen to. Sort of a Morgan Freeman voice, in the times of Justin Bieber bop. Maybe it will allow the light of an idea to be seen more clearly.”

Think that relates to writers and writing?

Sure, going deep with writing probably won’t help a writer become an overnight 50-Shades-of-Excitement success; but, it might help a writer’s work remain valuable far beyond their lifetime

And, in an article where she talks about the sacrifices necessary to accomplish something you’ve never done before, HOW TO TACKLE THE NEW THING, she says:

“…the gap between strategy and execution is a persistent one. It happens in organizations, it happens in our lives. In my 1st book (do you know about it? Published in 2010, it’s called The New How), I describe this gap as an ‘Air Sandwich’ – the persistent void between the big idea and the execution. I called it the Air Sandwich because all the stuff that matters — the thing that makes it complete — is missing. To fill it is about making the necessary tradeoffs, making tough decisions, and aligning resources. This is what I’m doing — though more slowly than I wish.”

Finally, I’ll share another video of Nilofer:

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How Do Writers Find Their “Voice”?

For those of you who’ve never considered what a writer’s Voice is, Wikipedia has a decent definition:

“The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).”

And, whoever wrote that definition (or, considering it’s Wikipedia, however many people worked on editing that definition) it has a peculiar Voice since it uses a completely non-typical word (not even in my Oxford dictionary)—“idiotypical”

I would have used “idiosyncratic” and had to go back to Wikipedia just to find a definition for “idiotypical”

So, leaving Wikiness behind, I need to link to two past posts that have videos of Nilofer Merchant:

#SocialEra ~ The New Model for Book Promotion

The #SocialEra Is Much More Than Just “Social Media” . . .

I’m going to share another video of Nilofer today, a video in which she uses a different “Voice” as a public speaker

And, that comment about her “voice” as a speaker seems to me intriguing, since, if you watch all three videos, she uses the same “voice”—one voice being how her vocal chords work and the other being how she uses the same vocal voice with different idiosyncratic mannerisms and stronger emotional emphasis.

Writers, too, can have different Voices in different works.

Yet, if you become familiar with all of a writer’s works, even if there are different Voices in each, there may be a single MetaVoice detectable

Young and untested writers often have imitative voices.

Finding a writing Voice is a very personal journey (nothing like the superficial “advice” some folks peddle) and the journey often involves struggle and heartbreak and commitment to some higher purpose.

And, if you need a simple method for finding your own, a method stressed by nearly all writers, just keep writing, then write some more, and never stop writing—your personal Voice will, eventually, emerge

In the following video, Nilofer isn’t talking only to writers but pay close attention because she uncovers one of the critical aspects of developing the Voice that Only You can have………

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Can Writing Poetry Help An Author Find Their “Voice”?

Writer’s Voice is one of those terms that seems to change its meaning depending on who’s talking about it—almost as if “Writer’s Voice” were capable of sensing who’s writing about it and letting that author’s Voice decide what “Writer’s Voice” means

For me, writer’s voice is “simply” the way one puts the words down.

If an author stays rigidly within a genre, the way they put words down is constrained by their experience within the genre.

And, speaking of genre, the previous post, What Is A Genre & Should You Try To Write In One?, is where I add my writer’s voice to the discussion

If a particular writer has a work classified as science fiction yet reading it feels substantially different than most sci-fi you’ve read, the book was either put in the wrong genre classification or, even though it could be fairly called sci-fi, the author’s voice is unique enough to raise the work above hackneyed-genre.

So, what does poetry have to do with helping a writer find their voice?

Well, The Atlantic recently published an article by Dorothea Lasky called What Poetry Teaches Us About the Power of Persuasion.

To me, an author’s voice is the main thrust behind their power to persuade—persuade in a forceful voice or one which woos or perhaps a deceiving voice that misinforms to persuade away from

Then, there’s Ms. Lasky’s subtitle-sentences:

“Logic and grammar are important. But for students to truly own the English language, they need to read and write poems.”

Certainly seems owning language would improve voice, eh?

Let me share a few more excerpts from the article in an attempt to persuade you to follow its link:

“…if someone is telling you that there is a set and finite way to construct a sentence—and you’re a poet—you will naturally get a little annoyed. And you will be justified in feeling this way, because it’s simply not true.”

“I have found that all students can write. And one of the surest ways to awaken their love for language is poetry.”

“A lot of people argue that poetry is ‘difficult’ or that it has no real value for childrens’ future. That’s just not true. If you think poetry isn’t important to your students, you are not listening to them. You are not noticing the headphones in their ears, blasting poetry to soothe their walk to class. You are not thinking of them in their rooms at night, writing down their experiences. It may be that you are defining poetry too dogmatically.”

“…in a poem, a student not only has the freedom to express a new idea, but to do so in novel language he or she has just created. More so than any other type of writing, a poem takes into account the indispensable dimension of well-chosen words.”

“A poem is not just a place to present a student’s grammatical knowledge (in fact, it is often the space to subvert it!). Poetry, more than any other form of writing, trains students to take into account the style of language.”

Yes, Ms. Lasky is talking about students, because she’s a poet and a teacher; but, any author who stops learning is an author that just might lose their voice
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Writers On Writing ~ A List That Can Inspire

Interested in “writing processes, revision strategies, the business of publishing, and the overall life of a writer”?

I blog about topics like that and I look for other writers who do the same. But, like many things on the Internet, there are good sites and not so good sites

I featured Kate Messner in a post titled, Critique Is Not A Bad Word, because I found her writing style compelling and her way of sharing information honest.

So, naturally, if she offers writing advice, I’m going to pay attention; and, if she lists other authors she likes to read, I’m going to share that list :-)

Check out her page called, Writers, for her top writing tips and her pick of 18 authors worth reading.

Her story about when she learned the importance of finding her own unique voice as a writer is priceless!

And, if you want my pick for best book by a writer about writing, try John Gardner‘s, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. ( “Young” in that title doesn’t refer to chronological age :-)
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