Finding Your Voice
I think the whole idea of voice is a bunch of MFA-mumbo jumbo. I am going to paraphrase and agree with the writer Anis Shivani and say it is all about style and that the ‘voice’ is something a singer needs to work on not a writer.
A writer, through trial and error figures out what style suits them best. Moshin Hamid (who you philistines need to be reading–he wrote the best book of 2013) uses second person and it serves him well. It is his style. Could he write third or first person? Yes, he is pretty talented but second person is the style that serves him and his stories best.
Myself, my favorite style is first person, that is my comfort zone but for my latest book “Great White House” I had to write in third person. Stylistically it was tough. In first person I can be clever, I can be loose I can let my character do some of the heavy lifting to move the story, but when writing in third person I’m serving a story and a multitude of characters. I have to get out the way; I can’t use wit or anything else in third person, I just have to serve the story. I use a simple prose style that puts the story front and center.
There are different types of styles, I will go back to the dead white guys club to show the two different styles: Hemingway and Faulkner. Now, I will say you really have to have your craft right to do Faulkner who writes long stream of consciousness of sentences. I also think of Proust. Some people can do that but for me I just don’t have the talent for that stylish ability. I fall under the minimalist style like Hemingway when writing in third person.
If I feel the concept/premise is the strongest and it has multiple characters, whether I want to or not I need to write in third person. I go with the philosophy: get the hell out of the way and write simply and clearly (I don’t use adverbs, but in blogging, no big deal.) That is my ‘voice’ so to speak. I’m not going to impress you with my poetic language, but I can tell a tight story and use ‘dialogue’ a strength of mine to move and serve the story.
Eventually, it would good to be in place where you have mastered all styles, where you just have one big literary tool box at your disposal and can pick what best serves the story you want to tell, but until then it is best to stick to your strengths.
I have a literary novel in the well that needs third person poetic language; I’ll tell that story one day when I’m a better writer and have more comfort in that style. Until then, I will keep it short and sweet.
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Genre – Fiction, Humor
Rating – PG-13
Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.