Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finding You in Your Writer’s Voice

by April Erwin

George Washington never told a lie. Abe Lincoln was honest as he was long. February has us honoring both great men’s birthdays as well as President’s day to honor our fearless leaders. Seems like Truth and Honesty rate as high this month as True Love. 

Why bring that up? Because those things are also the key to finding your true voice.

Have you been told you need to find your ‘voice’? Maybe so many times you want to throw your laptop out a window? I feel for you.

First let’s talk about what ‘voice’ is. Ginny Wiehardt had this to say on
Definition: Voice has two meanings as it concerns creative writers:

  • Voice is the author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character; or
  • Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of a first-person narrator; a persona. Because voice has so much to do with the reader's experience of a work of literature, it is one of the most important elements of a piece of writing.

Although both parts are important, for our discussion today, we’re focusing on the first part of the definition - that hard to put your finger on thing, the je ne sais quoi of a writer’s work that makes it uniquely theirs, the IT factor.

When I started writing Dysfunction Junction, I began with what I knew. I was comfortable writing in third person omniscient, often from at least two points of view. It’s also what I was used to reading in general.

I struggled over those first few chapters. They didn’t sound or feel right. Prayer finally brought me to the decision to try First Person present tense, limited. That would mean everything unfolded as it happened, and it all had to be through the eyes of Kianna, the main character. Funny how something that should have felt so limiting, actually freed the story immensely.

There was the first part of the lesson I learned: Be willing to consider something new. Don’t be afraid to step outside your normal boundaries.

That step outside also scared me. Sure first person is becoming more common, but present tense is still not very common, especially in this genre. All the articles and blog posts I had read about studying your market and genre kept floating through my mind. As writer’s we’re encouraged to be unique, different, stand out from the crowd – but don’t rock the boat too much, it’s best to stay within what’s common for your market.

I’m not saying that’s always wrong or even poor advice. We’re creative people and we need some tethers to ground us at times. That said, when you’ve weighed your options, prayed about it and feel God's leading in certain direction – THAT’S the advice to take.

So is finding your tense all there is to finding your voice? I wish! If it were that simple, there wouldn’t be so much discussion about finding the elusive beast. Your voice comes into play when you put you in your writing. Point of view, no matter which you choose, gives you a frame for the picture, a direction to take, but it requires your personal spark to bring it to life.

That was the second part of the lesson I learned: Get personal – and honest - with you. You’ve most likely created a strong background for your character. You know her personality traits, her looks, job, likes and dislikes. Now it’s time to immerse yourself in the character’s shoes and live their life.

That’s how a story comes to life and a character’s voice rings true. Honesty, truth, love and all the different facets of life they encompass. Readers identify with Kianna for a lot of things – size, faith, friends, family, and dysfunction – but what makes that all connect is the honesty in her character. The reader sees it all. They see and hear her feelings, her insecurities, and her mistakes as well as how she thinks and prays about them. Her Emotional Voice is as important as her Technical Voice or POV such as First person or Third Person. If the reader can’t connect with the character, then the character hasn’t reached their full potential and you may lose your readers interest.

Emotional honesty comes from within you as a writer.  Sure, it may be fiction, and you aren’t your character. But your emotions, and how you as the writer feels about your character’s situation, that has to be how you truly feel. There is where you finally add that elusive little bit that makes it YOUR voice.

There are plenty of stories about plus-sized women or women that struggle with body image. Comedic love stories are thick in the market. Spousal abuse, the desire to be a song writer, being cynical about love or even searching for true love certainly aren’t new themes. So why did Dysfunction Junction finally get a contract after so long? I found my voice. I opened my heart and put it all in to the story. When I practiced my faith and gave way to the emotions, everything became real, and so did the voice.

You may wonder how I knew I’d found my voice. That sometimes can be a little elusive as well. One, I had reader feedback. They were excited! The story they had liked all along, had come to life. Second, not only were my readers saying it, I finally felt like I’d found my voice. But as Paul said in Hebrews chapter 11, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I put my faith in action and trusted that newly given self-assurance. It paid off.
Finding your voice is a process, a journey to the center of you. You have a unique voice; one God gave only to you. It’s time to dig a little deeper and set it free. Get ready for an adventure.
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing
for a copy of my newly released e-book, Dysfunction Junction.
Dysfunction Junction

Twenty-six and never been kissed. That's about to change...

Finding true love these days feels impossible to Kianna Ravencamp, only dysfunction surrounds her.  She dreams of true love and a family, but she’s never even been kissed. For the first time in her life, she will have to navigate dating and flirtation. Will her inexperience be her downfall? Letting go and trusting God is the only answer that brings the path to real love and success.
Buy it on Amazon

Dream big, be bold, no fear! April Erwin is the author of humorous and inspirational contemporary stories that reflect her faith and the life motto created with her sister and best friend. A lifelong resident of Independence, MO, April loves living in her hometown surrounded by family and her Cocker Spaniel, Buddy. Raised in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she's thrilled to achieve her dream to become a writer and use that to witness of her Christian faith. She holds an Associate in Graphological Science, the study of handwriting analysis, tutors dyslexic and reading challenged individuals, enjoys photography, is a singer/songwriter and records original music with her sister, Angel. Dysfunction Junction is her second published novel.
April website:

April's blog:


Marianne Barkman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, April. As a reader I am learning more about the art and heart of writing than I thought I ever would. I never used to read a book written in first person, either past or present. I still am hesitant, but am finding some really good books and authors by stepping outside my comfort zone in this. Keep up the great work!

April Erwin said...

Thank you, Marianne, so glad to be here. It's early, but grab a latte and join the early morning crowd. :)

I agree, first person is a newer trend in a lot of ways, but a great new tool for many writers. Stepping outside of my comfort zone is always a challenge, but God does amazing things when we take chances with Him. I hope you continue to find some great new authors.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Congrats, April!!!

I can totally relate. I'd written the entire first book in 3rd person. When the editor returned her notes, she strongly recommended I rewrite the entire thing in first dog! ACK!

One of the hardest things I've ever done, and also in present tense, but wow - did it make a difference! I found my (May's) voice that way too. Definitely a leap of faith.

Your title is just the best! Would enjoy reading it I'm sure!

Thanks for the latte. :)

Hi Marianne - May sends her best greetings!!!

Jackie said...

Welcome to Seekerville,

Thanks for sharing how you found your voice. Lots to think about here. Great post.

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome, APRIL! You're so right--finding your writing 'voice' can sometimes be elusive.

I think I came into mine gradually when, as an unpubbed writer who'd struggled with that as I attempted to write third person POV stories, I started writing from a 1st person POV. Like you, while there are limitations, writing scenes from inside my heroine's head naturally brought out my 'voice.' Although I now write from both my hero's & heroine's POV, that 'voice' carried over.

So if someone is struggling with finding their 'voice' I'd strongly suggest that they rewrite some of their scenes from the 1st person POV of the hero and heroine. Try that out, kind of get comfy with it and see if it adds a 'spark' to the writing. Then that can translate back into writing from the third person POV.

KC - LOVE the "first dog POV." :) It adds a wonderful charm to May's stories!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning APRIL and welcome to Seekerville. You have tackled a tough topic and an elusive one and did a great job with it. Every conference I ever went to or workshop given by editors I always heard when asked the question what are you looking for? "We are looking for a unique voice." I always shook my head and wondered what that meant. You did a great job describing it. Thank you. Have fun today.

Jennifer Smith said...

Sounds like a great book! I'm also working on a book in first person present tense...I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to keep it that way.

Mary Connealy said...

April, I think this is just so full of great wisdom, about your emotional honesty being the X factor in finding your voice.

I really like it.

Mary Connealy said...

KC I once tried my hand at writing in First Person and then changed my mind about doing it and you just about have to start completely over.

That First Person to Third Person (or in your case FIRST DOG) shift is just huge.

What a great idea though, First Dog. LOL And of course it made May's book come to life.

Connie Queen said...

Good morning, April.
Love the title and cover.

I don't know about my voice, I just write. There are times I'm able to bury myself deep into the characters and story, and sometimes it's a struggle.

Thanks for being here today.

Mary Connealy said...

SANDRA, I have always found VOICE so hard to explain. I don't really think I know what it is myself, honestly.

I'm told I have a unique voice and I guess that's true. But how to explain it to someone, very complicated.

PS I knew someone who, while still aspiring toward publication, wrote a book in 1st person that was fantastic, back in the chick lit hey day. And I thought she'd really REALLY found her voice.

And then Chick Lit faded and there she was with this perfect voice for a genre that was vanishing. So what do you do? Do you have to find a NEW VOICE? That's not really possible is it?

But she managed to preserve her voice and guide it into 3rd person and a new genre, so even then I'm not sure I knew what VOICE was, because hers was so intertwined with the chick lit style

Jeanne T said...

I love your post on voice, April. It's fun to hear a bit about how you discovered your voice. I appreciate the advice to be be open to making changes. Great tips today!

Mary Hicks said...

April, thank you for addressing a topic that is so hard to get a grasp on—It's been too slippery for me, I'm still grasping!

I read everything I find on voice and still walk away not knowing what the writer is talking about.

I just finished a novel written in first person and I enjoyed the book a lot. Hmm... maybe I should try that.

I enjoyed your post and it made more sense to me than most things I've read on the subject. :-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, April! Great job on this post! Voice is just letting the honest, natural personality come through. Keep up the good work! :-)
April was one of my first critique partners, one of three who read my first draft of The Healer's Apprentice! Memories ... seems so long ago ... ;-) Great to "see" you again, April! :-)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Dare we interject "brand" here? First dog is kind of May's brand I guess. A talking spy dog. :)

That being said, I should clarify, even to myself. I'm not sure if I found MY voice really. But May's for sure...

Here I thought I had it down. Piffle!

April, you DID do a grrreat job of explaining voice. Sure appreciate it. If I write something besides May books, I'll reference this post again and again!

Happy writing (and promoting) everyone!

Melanie Dickerson said...

And don't you find it so much easier (I do) to be emotionally honest in your writing voice than when you talk to people in person? I guess that's why I'm a writer! I needed an outlet! LOL!!!

April Erwin said...

Welcome May and KC. I love dogs! Glad we could have one visit today. :) First dog would be quite a leap, but I bet May is much happier having such a present, clear voice. Good for you! :) And here's a sausage biscuit for May, my dog always loves them. ;)

Mz.ZeyZey said...

This is a great post.

I struggled early on to find my voice because I was trying to follow the advice of teachers & mentors. I started out writing poetry, so my descriptions were often detailed and poetic, whether of people, places, or things. I liked to inject my wry sense of humor and my faith into my stories.

I was told that my writing was "too indulgent" when I was in a writing class in college.I took what that teacher said as a stigma for a long time and tried to remove all adjectives, adverbs, and flowery prose from what I wrote. I tried to write "serious literature." But writing that way never worked for me.

As you said, it is an elusive process to find your voice and I just looked up one day to discover I had found that illusive quality that makes my writing mine. I still play around with different genres, POVs, etc., but all of my writing has my voice. Now I just need to work on getting it out there.

Awesome post! I would love to be entered to win your book--it sounds fabulous!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I left the nicest comment, truly brilliant, just magnificent and for the second day in a row, Google didn't recognize me.

I suspect a off-shore, overseas Swiss bank account is to blame, but I can't be 100% certain until the moon is on the morrow and the Earth is in the second house.


APRIL!!! Welcome to Seekerville! So nice to have you here and I love your take on voice... I can just see this story calling to you for the main character's pov/voice to ring loud and clear. Bravo for you!!!!

Now, Google is not listing me below, it may not let me in I think Teeeeeena may have BLOCKED ME but she denies it categorically.

I will feed her chocolate and make her talk.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


April Erwin said...

Thank you, Jackie, glad I could be of service. :) Enjoy your morning.

Julie Lessman said...


SUPER CONGRATS on the new book -- LOVE the cover and like KC, LOVE the title too!

I admire you for tackling first person, because for some reason, the very thought gives me cold chills. I can see how someone could find their "voice" a lot more easily with first person than third, but for me, I think all the characters would come out sounding like the same person -- Julie Lessman -- thus the cold chills!! :\

And yet, I am intrigued by first person because it does seem as if you can delve into the heart and soul of a character SO much more, thereby capturing your reader all the more as well.

I tend to be a POV queen with multiple POVs in a book because I like seeing the story from all angles, and I don't think you can do that with first person, can you?


April Erwin said...

Hello Glynn Kay! Good point. Not every story is meant to be told in first person, but the willingness to step outside that comfort zone and try something new can often spark a great surprise. Whether you always use it, is up to you, God, and your project. But it's nice to know there are tools to use.

By the way, I made breakfast quiche for everyone with Nutella stuffed French toast on the side. Dig in!

April Erwin said...

Good morning, Sandra. I feel you! I heard the same thing. How do you know what's unique if they can't describe it? That's when with some help I discovered they really meant 'you-nique' and that helped. :) Glad I could give a new outlook on it. Thanks for being with us this morning.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Well, voice.

Does "SNARK" qualify?

It should.

I think as professionals we're all adaptable, and I think we're all unique in our own way, but I think true "voice" comes in when we can apply our unique take on a book to the character's absolute character.

So our "voice" but in Sophie's voice or Belle's voice or Cassie Dawson's voice as pertains to their character... and then it's Us but Them.

Because we stayed in character.

This might not make sense because I'm drinking a latte right now and VERY HAPPY AND FOCUSED ON FROTHY GOODNESS.

April Erwin said...

Thank you, Jennifer! Kudos for trying something different, First Person can sometimes be a challenge, othertimes more of a breeze. (Well, in retrospect. :) Good luck finding the best path for your story and voice. :)

Julie Lessman said...

WHOOPS ... just saw that I posted twice by accident ... my impatience strikes again!!

LOL, KC ... "first dog" ... LOVE IT!!

MELANIE SAID: "Voice is just letting the honest, natural personality come through."

I totally agree! Despite my hyper CDQ personality, I have a very casual, modern, laid-back and almost flip style to my writing which I worried was not the "proper" voice for historicals, and I have gotten some negative reviews in reference to that, in fact. But the truth is, my voice IS very casual and down-to-earth, so I don't think I could ever write Austen-style or Amish books for that very reason.

One of the greatest compliments I ever got was from a good friend who said reading my books was like going to lunch with me -- for some reason that tickled me to no end because that's the voice I want to convey -- quirky and crazy and very, very casual.


April Erwin said...

Thank you, Mary. Any wisdom found certainly isn't mine, but God's. I prayed so hard over this blog post! When I actually sat down to come up with an idea, I blanked so hard on a 'teaching concept'. Honestly, it's only my second pubbed book and 3rd finished MS. But God always uses cracked pots according to Patsy Clairmont, so I'm glad He was able to use me to share my learning experience with all of you. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back, April.

You know this is one of those topics that we all want to talk about and no one does. It's really hard to explain and you did it so well.

Gosh, it's like the perfect dress. You know what it isn't but it's so hard to define what it is. But when you find are in the zone.

Well said. Thank you.

April Erwin said...

Good morning, Connie. Thank you! The title came from the very concept of the book for me. It just worked. As for the cover, I had a fantastic artist, C.K. Volneck. She was great to work with.

You are a blessed woman! To have found your voice so naturally without having to break it down. :) I know we all struggle sometimes to get into our writing, even the most seasoned (I've heard whispers...) Maybe trying something new would help at those times? I'll need to remind myself of this again at sometime too, probably. :)

Thanks for being with this morning. :)

April Erwin said...

Thanks, Jeanne! One of the things about being open to change, is that it comes along more often than I like. :) So even though Dysfunction Junction is First Person, another one of my current WIP is debating with me about third person. LOL. We will see where it goes.

Glad you could be here. :)

April Erwin said...

Good morning, Mary Hicks. I've been there, too. How many books are written on voice? And did any of them help me? LOL, maybe a little, but it is a confusing and slippery thing to pin down. I can't say I have all the answers for everyone, but this was definitely how the little light bulb blinked on over my head. I hope it helps you in your writer's journey as much as it did me. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Enjoyed this article on voice, April. It can be tricky to find just the right fit.

April Erwin said...

Hey, Melanie, old friend! Great to 'see' you again too. :)

Melanie read the early drafts of Dysfunction Junction (that was a long time ago!)and was a great help and support. Not to mention inspiration! I love Melanie's books. Healer's Apprentice was gold and I'm so happy with all your following success, Melanie. Thanks for being here!

April Erwin said...

Ah, KC, are we daring to bring up the differences between writer voice and character voice? LOL. That could be a whole new post! :)

I think the biggest help I found, was putting my whole self in emotionally helped me avoid mimicing, even accidentally, another writer's voice. You'll be great KC. :)

April Erwin said...

Yes, Melanie! If I had the option of writing every disagreement, or complicated conversation, I would! Not only can I be more open and expressive, but I can EDIT! :) LOL, that would save me from saying a lot of things I probably shouldn't.

kaybee said...

Comcast ate my comment so am trying again. This is something I struggle with...I write historicals with some pretty heavy themes...but my voice in my private life is flip and contemporary like JULIE'S...I have heard this from contest judges...maybe I'm writing the wrong stories...something to think about. Thank you APRIL.

April Erwin said...

Thank you Mz. ZeyZey. I had a little of that too. I had a college English teacher that sometimes gave mixed signals and always hated having faith interjected. That was a struggle. I did learn a lot from her, but one thing I learned was what she wasn't trying to teach. My faith is a part of me, therefore part of everything I write and not removeable! :)

April Erwin said...

Google wouldn't dare block your brilliance today, Ruth - I'm here! Although if you want to feed ME chocolate I will tell you anything you want. ;)

April Erwin said...

Good morning, Julie! You just stay POV Queen, that how we all love you! :) First person generally is a single POV, although I've seen YA books do Multi-POV First person. It can be a challenge!

I don't think First Person is the only way to find your voice, but it can help in the right situation. That's where my first lesson stepped in.

1. Be willing to consider something new. Don’t be afraid to step outside your normal boundaries.

For me, first person was that step. Others might find a different option. :)

Amber Schamel said...

I have a very hard time identifying my writer's voice. I know I have one, because people say they see it, but I can't see it for my life!

What you said about the different tenses is interesting. I wanted to write my last book in a different tense, but I couldn't pull it off in the time frame I had.

Cara Lynn James said...

Thanks for coming to Seekerville, April!

Voice is so crucial. It's important to 'find' and 'use' your own voice and not your crit partner's or if you can avoid it, your editor's. I don't think you can change your voice, only improve upon it.

April Erwin said...

Good point Ruth! "So our "voice" but in Sophie's voice or Belle's voice or Cassie Dawson's voice as pertains to their character... and then it's Us but Them."

That's a great way to describe it.

April Erwin said...

Well said, Tina! lol, that was a great example. :)

April Erwin said...

Thank you, Pam. Welcome to Seekerville. :)

April Erwin said...

Kaybee, maybe it's the wrong genre or maybe you just haven't found the right home for your stories yet. It took a while to find the right place for Dysfunction Junction. Best advice I can offer is pray about it and ask God what He wants? Then enjoy the adventure. :)

April Erwin said...

Hi Amber, sounds like you have a good start. I had a similar experience. I knew I was on the right track when I was getting that same kind of feedback from my critique group. It took a while for me to recognize it myself, but in time I did. Given time, maybe you'll see your's too. :)

April Erwin said...

Morning Cara Lynn. You're right, editors and critique partners can sometimes muddy the waters so to speak. :) I was very blessed to have a great group of critique friends and editors.

Mary Connealy said...

Now April don't let 'only my second book' stop you.

Ruthy's been giving advice since the minute she typed her first word. Not knowing what she's talking about hasn't even slowed her down.

It's a great post.

April Erwin said...

LOL! Thank you, Mary! I'll keep that in mind. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Fantastic post, April! Thanks for sharing your insights with us today.

I will NEVER forget a phone call with an editor a thousand years ago, back when I was writing for children and YA. I'd been trying for months and months to get a yes or no on a certain book manuscript I'd submitted, and when I finally got hold of the editor, she basically told me my central character had NO VOICE. Which, to me, meant I had no voice. I was heartbroken! It took me a long, long time to get over that rejection.

The things is, each of us has a voice. We may not have discovered it at its core yet, but it's there. And the only way to find it is to KEEP WRITING.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary Connealy listen, chickie, chickie baby, I'm in tune with April, we're havin' a good ol' time, so just don't be rockin' the boat with your silly tales of Ruthy bossin' folks 'round.

It ain't so.

You know it.

I know it.

Now, April, darling.... (smiles sweetly)....

You know you don't have to be all that nice to Mary, right? I mean, NORMAL NICE is fine and dandy, but too much and it goes to her head and we can do NOTHING WITH HER.

Just another word of Ruthy-advice, you know.... Wanting what's best for all concerned.

I brought carrot cake, it's amazing, and just so melt-in-your-mouth good with that cream cheese icing.

Gaining weight as I type.

April, you're doing GREAT and you tackled a tricky subject that none of us really understand, we just pretend we do and smile and nod.

I'm not even half kidding!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And doesn't Connealy have some calves to birth or something????

I mean, REALLY?????

April Erwin said...

Thanks, Myra. :)

Great example, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Rejection is a tough thing for me too.

Keep Writing might be the most frequent thing I heard, but it's great advice. You can't accomplish anything without actually Doing it, no matter how long the journey.

April Erwin said...

Ruthy you crack me up! :) Thanks for the carrot cake, by the by, it's my Fave. NOTHING beats HOMEMADE cream cheese frosting. Mmmmm. :)

You know there's a reason Kianna is a plus-size girl and her best friend Alexa is a foodie. See? Lots of ME in my writing. lol :)

Mary Waibel said...

April, what a great post! I understand completely leaving the comfort zone of writing in 3rd person to test out the waters in 1st. In the end, it comes down to what's best to tell the story you're telling.

Best of luck with Dysfunction Junction!

April Erwin said...

Thanks, Mary W. :)

Yes, absolutely, POV is only a tool in helping you find your voice, it may not be the one for every story, but it's great to know we have options. :)

Mary Connealy said...

April can you really analyze handwriting? That is both fascinating and scary.

Scary because I shudder to think what you'd make of mine (flake, slob, troubled loner, serial killer, heaven help us all!)

Do you ever work at that, like to find forgeries for the police and testify in court? (Note I am dramatizing your life quite freely...You're Welcome)

April Erwin said...

Yes, Mary, I really do Handwriting analysis. :) Generally it's for personality profiles requested by individuals. I have done a married couple's to help them in seeing their differences and also their matching traits. It was helpful in their counseling.

A fun note, I did an analysis for a schoolmate. He sent it in with his application to be an intern for George W. Bush. He was accepted and flew air force one and went on to do some great things. Traits that were obvious in his analysis. :)

I have not worked with the police myself, but my instructor had worked with the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation). It has been an inspiration in one of my completed MS that hasn't found a home yet.

It's a fascinating study. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Such an interesting post! Voice is a difficult subject to say the least, and you've done a great job analyzing it today.

I think of it as my default writing. When I just write, without allowing my internal editor to take over, my voice naturally appears.

Don't we see it even in blog comments? Ruthy has a style. Mary another. Both are a result of their writing voice. Some voices are lyrical, some quite terse, others hard edged, some very soft and frilly.

Changing genres and changing characters can change the words we write, but that rhythm, the syntax, the snark (as Ruth might say) remains.

Or do I have it all wrong?

Writing in first person would be a huge challenge for me. Seems I'd keep saying I, as in I said, I thought, I walked, I nodded, I shrugged. You get the idea. Applauding your success and your beautiful faith that shines through your post!


Debby Giusti said...

April, so glad you've used your handwriting analysis background in one of your stories. I see a sleuth in a cozy mystery series who helps the cops and ends up in danger.

And you could write her in first person!!! LOL!

Debby Giusti said...

BTW, I lived in Kirksville, Missouri, for three years. Hubby taught ROTC at what was then NE MO State University. Renamed Truman State. Great school. Great people!

Cold winters though, with lots of snow. Bet I didn't have to tell you about the snow! Especially this year. :)

Clari Dees said...

Great post and nice to "meet" you, April. Love these insights on finding/using/growing your unique writing voice. And while it might be hard to describe voice, boy is it ever evident just reading the comments. Every commentor has their own distinctive style.
(Ruth and Mary, you've got me in stitches.) :-)

I haven't been too big a fan of first voice POV in the past because, like Julie Lessman, I prefer at least two POVs--the hero's and the heroine's. But then I found Nicole Deese's books. And in the second one, I believe, she does first POV from both the heroine and the hero and it really works. So I'm giving first POV stories a second look now days.

April Erwin said...

Thanks, Debby. :)

You've made a great point, our voice can be heard in so many places. Once we finaly learn to recognize it, it's everywhere! lol

That personal pronoun I is a challenge at first, but it eventually settles in. As a writer we just have to whip it into submission. :)

Kirksville is about 3 hrs NE of me, but I've visited. And so far this winter I don't think anyone has been free of the snow monster. we just have crazy rollercoaster days with a oot of snow and sub zero one week and sunny and 60 degrees the next. Fun!

April Erwin said...

Welcome, Clari, nice to meet you too.

There are so many different tastes, as both readers and writers, for us to choose from. Which I love.I'm a bit of everything kind of girl. I'm excited to see first person grow into a broader adult market. I'm glad you're finding writer's to suit your taste.

Exploring new authors, styles and genres is a great deal of the fun for me as a reader. :)

Missy Tippens said...

April, thanks so much for being here today! I always love to talk about voice. I think it's so cool to read something by a friend or critique partner and have that aha! moment, knowing she's found her voice.

That happened with my cp Lindi Peterson. When our critique group read one of her manuscripts (first person present tense) we all said, "This is is!" and were so excited. That was her first story that sold. :)

April Erwin said...

Hi Missy, thanks for coming by. That's so exciting for Lindi! Congrats to her.

I love seeing my CP's find their success and contracts. Celebrating together is more fun. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, in one of my FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME, Deb Smith's "SWEET HUSH", Deb uses first person POV for both hero and heroine.

So we get both pov's but they're separated and done in first person.

Great, quick and immediate draw into the book as these two protagonists deal with the situation they're in... and the situation they wish they could be in!

Love it!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I would have never thought of doing that in a book until I read it done that way.

Something to think about, romance writers!

April Erwin said...

Great example Ruth. Nice to see it can be done as First Person Multi POV. :)

Terri said...

Great post, April! To me voice is so tricky, but I definitely know when I read one I like.

April Erwin said...

Thanks, Terri, glad you enjoyed it.

It is tricky sometimes, but it's also diverse! I think it's great that there are so many different voices to enjoy. Keeps it exciting. :)

Chill N said...

Hi April! GREAT title for a book!

Your post is so timely for me. 'Voice' is something I've been assured I don't have a problem with. However, as I was editing my second historical last week (after not looking at it for a year), I recalled being told that one way to check whether you have achieved a reasonable deep third person POV is to change the first chapter to first person POV and see if it reads well. So ... I did. And suddenly the story had a whole new dimension. I'm eager to change the entire manuscript to first person POV and then find out what my beta readers think.

My voice as a writer was fine, but shifting to first person POV gave my character an amazing voice :-)

Also, that is a lovely paragraph about emotional honesty. Definitely a keeper for the 'words of inspiration' file.

Nancy C

April Erwin said...

Hello, Nancy! Thank you very much, I'm happy to be able to share with everyone else. :)

That's a great tip, too. I know I'll keep that in mind for my MS. Good luck with your beta readers!

Donna Alice said...

Hi April, Always knew this book would be published and told you so a long, long time ago. :) I love the story as much now as I did the first time I read it. Lovely blog post - just the thing to get my writerly juices pumping this stormy night!

April Erwin said...

Hi, Donna! Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, you did tell me that. So glad you kept believing in me and my story when I wasn't sure I could anymore. Your encouragement helped push me to invest myself and finally find my voice. You're awesome!

Donna is one of my CP and is a fantastic author herself. We've had a great time encouraging one another and cheering each other's success. :)

Walt Mussell said...

I don't know if it relates to voice, but I started stepping out of my comfort zone when I started writing outside my preferred historical time period. I feel like I understand the feeling.

April Erwin said...

I think stepping outside of our comfort zone in any way can be helpful in finding our voice, Walt. Different genres certainly feel different to write in many ways, but like Julie Lessman mentioned earlier, even a more modern tone can still work in a historical setting.

"I have a very casual, modern, laid-back and almost flip style to my writing which I worried was not the "proper" voice for historicals, and I have gotten some negative reviews in reference to that, in fact. But the truth is, my voice IS very casual and down-to-earth, so I don't think I could ever write Austen-style or Amish books for that very reason."

Good for you for trying new things. You may find you have more than one genre that suits you best. :)

DebH said...

i wasn't able to stop by on Thursday, but i really enjoyed this post on voice (even shared it with someone else who has been wondering if she has a voice - she does).

thanks for sharing here. lots of food for thought and wise words.

April Erwin said...

Welcome Deb, I don't mind late comers. :) Everyone is always welcome. Thank you for sharing!

Edwina said...

This was such a helpful post! Thanks for sharing!

Sherri Woodbridge said...

Such a great and very helpful post - thank you!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Miss April, thanks for the sausage biscuit.
*nom nom nom*

So thoughtful of you, and tasty too!

Love from your new FURiend, May

April Erwin said...

Hello, Edwina and Sherri W., welcome! Thank you for visiting, so glad I could share with all of you. :)