DO RE MI FA SO LA TI DO…….Voice: Don’t Believe What you Heard

do re me. jpeg

Those of you following this blog since the beginning know that the regular posters are three writers. Three very different writers. If someone were to blindfold you and force you to listen to our blog posts read aloud—not that anyone would EVER do that—chances are, even after such a short acquaintance, you could identify the blogger. We three have completely different voices.

Mine? Easy, light and breezy, I often cut into my own thoughts and pick up the main theme later. Sort of stream of consciousness meets, oh, look, something shiny! You get it. That’s my blog voice.

The voice I write in is different and it changes among the genre I write. For my Hayden Kent traditional bordering on cozy series, the voice is still light and breezy, but there are nuances. The books are set in the Florida Keys, and the style and voice reflect the feel of the tropics. The stories deal with death, but the tone, which is a part of voice, is light.

My traditional bordering on suspense novels feature a darker voice. Catherine Swope is an ex-cop. She doesn’t have the luxury of blundering. Her lover is a serving cop. Oh look, something shiny does not enter into the equation. Nuances still figure in to define the relationships and the boundaries, but the voice and style are different. The books have a darker, more serious tone and the language usage changes to reflect that. There is an overarching sense that things may not turn out well and the voice reflects that possibility.

The lighthouseTwo series, one writer, different voices. How’s a writer supposed to build a brand. Didn’t we all learn in creative writing classes that the voice should always be consistent? Dickens (who needs no first name) is different from Sinclair Lewis (who does need a name identifier). PD James is different from Rita Mae Brown. Two paragraphs into any of these writers and the reader should be shouting, “I know who that is…I recognize the voice.” Insert loud screeching of brakes here.unsuitable

Dickens and Lewis wrote standalones. They could afford one voice. They needed the immediate recognition. That’s what sold their books. James (who I deeply miss) and Brown write series. More than one series. James’s Dalgliesh will never be mistaken for her Cordelia Grey. No one will ever confuse Brown’s Mrs. Murphy books with the Sister Jane Arnold books. Each of these series has its own voice. Separate and distinct, yet each voice is immediately identifiable to its own series.

One voice per writer? Bah, humbug! That’s much too limiting to the writer. Writers are by nature shapeshifters. We create worlds, characters, and situations. Voice is craftwork, a weapon in the arsenal of writing, like setting, structure, and conflict, it exists to identify and serve the story arc. Limiting a writer to one voice is as pointless as limiting a writer to one theme. There is no need, and it’s a death knell to creativity.

Oh, look, something shiny!

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5 thoughts on “DO RE MI FA SO LA TI DO…….Voice: Don’t Believe What you Heard

  1. When talking to so-called experts in publishing, I’ve been told to stay consistent. Build a brand. A steady voice. And that, allegedly, is how to build a readership. I’m done with listening to, well, anybody. I write what I want, when I want, how I want.

    Which is to say, yes, I agree with you. Talented writers can and should develop more than one voice. Why the hell not?

    That said, if more than a dozen people actually read my book(s), I might be able to keep writing the same ole, same ole. Only thing is that wouldn’t be the ONLY thing I wrote. Totally boring.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So true, all of it. An article I read triggered this post. In it, the author said he couldn’t publish under his own voice, but when he submitted in — this is true — Rousseau’s voice, he sold. Given that success he imitated other “voices” and sold some, failed at some. Clearly, he was debunking the one voice myth, but his methods were…interesting.

    I would not want to read one voice over a variety of series. Smacks too much of formula to me. Different situations/stories should sound different. Of course, there is resistance to the idea. JK Rowling changed her voice from YA to adult stories and people loved the mysteries, until they discovered the author. Then they apparently felt betrayed. What’s the solution? Lots of pen names?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree about different voices for different books, especially for a series. If you were to read a sample of dialogue or narrative of the two Malburn brothers from my Civil War/Reconstruction historical saga you would find them totally different from any of my other works. And each has his own voice. And the book has ITS own voice–a more “metaphysical” voice. I believe as a writer I would have trouble writing in the same voice even in standalones. Voice is part of characterization, and you don’t want narration and dialogue to be similar in different books with different characters.

    So far I haven’t grown bored with the narrator of my mystery series. I like the guy and find him fun to hang around with.I also like the “higher” voice of the books themselves. Someday I just might try writing another mystery series or standalone. I’ll have to shake loose from the current series and find all new voices and new characters for the venture. And the book or books would also have their unique voice. No cloning allowed. Otherwise, that WOULD become boring.
    Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am always amazed when I read the “one voice” edict. I think that might be one of those “rules” that are imposed until the writer is comfortable enough in their own writing to break it wide open.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know how a writer can write in one voice. I can’t imagine doing that. How boring. Each novel, each story should be based on the characters within and therefor the voice has to suit that of the character and the story – regardless of the writer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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