Friday, 10 April 2009

Voice - your greatest asset

A year ago I went with my writer friend Anna to a Romantic Novelists' Association talk, given by the agent Teresa Chris. What stuck in my mind was her emphasis on the importance of voice for a novelist.

She also wondered whether writers' groups and writers' courses conspired to make authors less individual, and damaged their voice. A novelist struggling alone in his garret was more likely to retain the unique qualities that would eventually make his work saleable.

It's interesting that Eve White, answering unpublished writers' questions, makes the same point. You can read her answers here. She says, when asked what mattered most, 'A fresh voice. Style is most important. One can learn structure and plot, but not style.'


  1. The Voice thing is, of course, easier said than done. I think it only really makes an appearance when you are channeling more than writing. When what is coming out is a product of everything that you have fed yourself, all the great and lousy writers you have read, all your life experiences, all the interesting/aggravating/stupid/brilliant/loving/spiteful people that have ever been a part of your life, and all the music that has entered your soul and all the dogs you have ever known and loved. That is the stew that produces Voice.

    It can't help but be unique. It's up to us to polish it, buff it up a bit and make it presentable. We've got to be careful not to change its nature in the process.

    And then we have to hope somebody who can make a difference recognizes it, understands it and believes it is a Voice worth hearing.

    That's the other part that's easier said than done.

  2. You've worried me about the dogs, Alan. I've always wanted a dog...

    There's a blackbird on my balcony who gives me a beady look when he wants sultanas. Does that count?

  3. Everybody has their own dogs. Sometimes they are blackbirds. Sometimes they are fire hydrants.

    I am glad yours are not fire hydrants.

    As for the dog wish, may I recommend a wire haired dachshund? Female would be good. Sweet tempers, good for apartment (flat) dwellers, social and yet extremely loyal to the family.

    Or you can go longhaired doxie and chance getting a mental basket case like Odie. That has its own unique charms.

  4. My workshop neighbour has a furry dachshund, Charlie. He is sweet-natured, with lovely soft fur, but a terrible coward.

    My dream dog is a mongrel, like Dog in CaFS.