Saturday, April 26, 2014

#atozchallenge: Voice

"Voice is the je ne sais quoi of spirited writing. It separates brochures and brilliance, memo and memoir, a ship's log and The Old Man and the Sea."
~ Constance Hale, Sin and Syntax

Voice. The je ne sais quoi of spirited writing. I love that. (This book, by the way, is the core of a writer's joie de vivre. If you haven't read it, get it now. Nothing will ever be the same.)

But what is voice? What is that je ne sais quoi? Is it just language and syntax, how a writer chooses to put sentences together? Does it have to do with subject matter? With characters? With the writer's vision of the world?

All of it? None of it?

Undefinable as it is, voice is the most visible quality in writing. And nowhere is that more apparent than in an anthology of short fiction.

2014: A Year In Stories
A twelve-volume anthology published by Pure Slush Books

He thinks it's time now to find a cab or a hotel but the crush of bodies around him becomes greater, another throng of people swept up in religious fervor. This is what he wants: ecstasy and spectacle, animal sacrifice and widow-burning and fire-walking. This is why he has come to India, after all. Isn't it? 
~ Azure, by John Wentworth Chapin (2014 March Vol. 3)

BTW I was thinking, maybe you might want some assistance, just to speed the editing up a little, because it's taking a little longer than it would normally, probably because summer has hit you early and that red pen can get a little slippy and slidey all over the page.
~ Schöne Grüße aus Tirol, Sally-Anne Macomber (2014 March Vol. 3)

Jump out of bed. Shower. Blow-dry hair. Apply makeup. Put on mom costume. Walk down hall to kids' rooms. Wake them for school. Same thing, Monday through Friday, August through May. Rinse and repeat. This is your life on motherhood.  
~ Rinse and Repeat, by h. l. nelson (2014 March Vol. 3)

As Stevie reaches into his backpack he weighs what he dislikes about Rick, starting with the fact that he knows it was Rick--Rickie back then--who stole his Star Wars lunchbox in the seventh grade. It was not from the new series either; it was vintage, from the original ancient series from his parents' wonder years.
~ No. 2 Pencil, by Michelle Elvy (2014 April Vol. 4)

It isn't baseball weather. Grey and forbidding, with a misting rain falling out of low, angry clouds, it's soup and blanket weather for most, but just another early season day in another city for us. Nobody wants to play--not the sparse group of diehard fans huddled under cover; not the umpires, huddled inside until the last possible moment; not the ground crew warming their hands over the hot dog steam; and certainly not the players, conscious of the fragile bodies they are compensated so well for using. 
~ Fourth Inning, by Michael Webb (2014 April Vol. 4)

Do you have a favorite author? Could you recognize their work among others'? What do you think makes a writer's voice unique? Is it only writers who have it? What constitutes style? Is it something we're born with, like blue eyes or brown? Or is it something we can cultivate?

~ * ~ 

Yes, I realize V day was yesterday for the rest of the A-to-Z world. Seeing as I haven't behaved this week, I'm giving up my day off tomorrow and posting W then. Sorry :(

Thanks for the visit!


  1. Hi Guilie .. a voice - I definitely wouldn't recognise anyone - I'm not that well read, yet I do enjoy some bloggers' posts and can see their voice in those ..

    I'm having mini hassles with the pc .. but I'll catch up .. cheers Hilary

  2. Voice amazes me. Even an unskilled writer can have an amazing voice. Trust me. I know. My teenage son has written some amazing pieces for school and he barely speaks English. ;)


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