The Voice

I’ve heard a writer’s voice is one of the most important things about their craft.  You always know when you’ve read on of Neil Gaiman’s metaphors.  You know when the text is phonetic and southern, it’s Mark Twain.  If you see a lot of second person or exceptional detail describing hand-to-hand combat, it has to be Greg Rucka.  Should you be reading prose that paints a setting out of emotions as well as visuals, you have to be reading Guy Gavriel Kay.

So, I ask myself, what voice makes my prose distinct?I suppose I could try to answer that question by picking apart some of the elements of my writing.  If I look at a few, I could get an idea of how I do things–or how I should.

  • I like to use verbal synaesthesia every once in a while.
  • I take heavily from Frank Herbert’s method of letting the story come from the dialogue.
  • If possible, I’d love to write descriptions like Terry Goodkind, two or three sentences, then it’s all vivid.
  • I think the first pages of the story are a pledge I make to the reader.  Despite any turns that come along, the ending prestige must pay off the initial pledge.
  • I play games with my prose, just check the last section.  It’s full of magic.
  • Never trust me completely.  I’ll use your assumptions against you.
  • Double entendre  is my friend.  It’s a distant friend, but we keep in touch.

I’m not sure if elements like these are enough.  After all, each writer brings their ideas and prejudices to their craft.  Their beliefs subtly leak in, pouring through every opening like a house being washed away by a flood.  So what do I want to give with my writing?

  • I want to tell a good story.  I want you to be able to escape from the world, if only for a little while.
  • My writing should be accessible, but not simplistic.
  • Any story I tell needs to be insightful and entertaining.
  • Explosions.  There needs to be one per chapter on average.  The explosions can be literal, figurative, or emotional.
  • Engaging characters.  You want them, I’ve got them.

I’m not sure if these lists are doing the job.  Maybe I need a different approach.  Maybe I should be thinking about the concepts, the ideas I pour into my text.  After all, Brandon Sanderson is defined by his magic systems and Jim Butcher is known for writing witty jabs.

I want to bring so much with my content, but there are some things I firmly believe in.  These things are immutable and, since the subconscious leaks through, I should probably mention a few things about that as well.  In short, this isn’t just about my voice as a writer, but who I am and what I believe.  That’s always going to fuel my writing, even if I steer in directions contrary to that.

I believe in honor.  My characters will believe in things because of that.  Their values might not seem to be the most honorable, but it’s what drives them.

I don’t think a story will end up happy, but I don’t think just because someone is happy that happiness must be destroyed.  I’m not Joss Whedon, so I don’t think I gain anything by being the destroyer of joy.

But, on the flip side, I try to be realistic.  I want to use realism to build the story I’m going to make.  That way, the madness, the fantasy, the wonder is all still plausible.

I have relationship issues.  My luck with the ladies has not been the greatest and my particular tastes are, well, I’m picky.  This is something I’m aware of, enough that I’ve built a solid plot around it and call it Mind & Machine.  The nature of relationships, especially intimate relationships, is an important theme in my life, a large note of absence and rare presence.

I am not my characters, nor are real people.  Except for the evil politicians.  I’m a firm believer that people can and will be exploited.  It’s human nature.

But I also believe that deception can only go so far, I think that people can’t be made to do things they don’t want to.  If such a thing became possible, then I find it immoral, illogical, and just wrong.

This is my attempt.  Hopefully, you have a clearer view of who I am as a writer and where thematically I plan to go with my work.  It’s not going to be the easiest course, but, with your help, I think I could make something good of it.


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