Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On POV and Voice

(X-posted from the Tri Mu Blog)

Voice is one of those frustrating parts of writing that you either have, or have yet to develop. There is no magic formula to finding your voice. You just have to write, and write, and write, until your voice transforms into something that is yours.

What is voice? Well, it is not only what you say, but also how you say it. Voice is your word order. It is your punctuation. Your paragraphing. It is what determines how the reader "hears" your words in their head.

When I was a teenager, I wrote mostly high fantasy. (I didn't finish said high fantasy novels, but that's a different story.) These grand adventure stories where all told from the third person point of view and often contained several view point characters. (Third person POV uses the pronouns 'He/She/It', for those readers who might be unfamiliar.) During my many years of crafting these tales, I never truly developed my voice. Oh, I'm sure I started, and every writing has 'voice' of some sort--it just isn't always pleasant to read.

In my early twenties, I switched from high fantasy to urban fantasy, and consequently from 3rd person to 1st with only one view point character. (1st person uses the pronoun 'I'.) This is when my voice started to emerge, and since then, my voice has become, well, what it is today. The way I write (hopefully) compliments what I write about, and fits with my characters and genre.

That leads me to today's issue. I am currently taking a one week break from the first draft of HB2 to work on a short story. This short is high fantasy--likely the only high fantasy I've written in the last five years--and while I am absolutely loving the story, I've been slightly worried that my voice isn't working for the story. I stepped back today and really looked at the words I had on the page, contemplating the idea that I perhaps couldn't write in the sub-genre anymore. Then I realized I was writing in first person (probably because I almost always write in first.) I switched to third, and while the voice in the story is still undeniably mine, it works better for the story. It is such a small change, but a change that makes me reexamine how I say things. It works. Reinvigorated, I hope to finish the story tonight, and if everything goes as planned, to have it shined up by the end of the week and ready to be sent out.

Have you ever written a story (or chapter/character/ect) and realized something was in discord with the work and your voice? What did you do?

Have you ever switched between first and third person POV just to see how it would change the writing? If you did, what did you discover?

Happy hump day everyone!

1 comment:

Marcia Colette said...

Great blog! I swith between both all of the time. Third person for my paranormal romances and first person for my urban fantasies. I can't figure out which one I like best because it's really dependant upon the genre I'm writing in. I've tried switching POVs with both types of writing and that didn't go over well. At least, not to me.