V – Voice in Fiction Writing :: ‘Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing’
Here is another post under series ‘Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing’, we are on to alphabet V.
What comes to the mind when we think of the term ‘Voice’.
Someone speaking? A person? Gender, age, regional identity…
Nature? Birds, wind, raindrops…
Urban? Vehicle honking, footsteps, machine running…
Tone? Musical, lilting, harsh, placid, resigned, happy…
Let’s add another dimension to this: you have to convey your voice, not by speaking or singing, not by playing an instrument, but only with words.
Words which will tinkle in the landscape of the mind instead of one’s eardrums. Words which will play on the mind of the reader as if she/he is watching a movie, stimulating the visual as well as the audio senses. The descriptions of the scene and characters, background noises so detailed that the reader stops listening to the real world and loses oneself into the make-believe world of fiction depending on a way—your distinctive way—of stringing the words together.
This is what is called the ‘Voice’ in fiction writing—a unique or signature style of an author. The author’s voice characteristics are evident in the way a person narrates a piece of writing. It is one of the most important elements and is a combination of thought-process, language mechanics and vocabulary.
The ‘Voice’ in Fiction Writing is broken down into two areas ‘Author’ and ‘Character’ voice. Although both are work of the same person, the ‘author’ voice remains the same across books and the character’s voice differs as per the gender, traits, the situation of the said character.
The choice of words or phrase, the structure of sentence including the punctuation define an author’s voice. The way an author eases the reader into the act is also a key factor. The author’s voice is fairly consistent across all the work product the author has produced. As a result, readers are, usually, able to identify the author simply by reading a selection of their work.
For example, here is an excerpt from my novel Jugnu (The Firefly) which talks about a generic scene thereby giving a glimpse of my writing style;
As the beauty of the panoramic view weaved its spell on him, the stress and anger dissipated and were replaced by wonder at the splendid spread of nature. The evening sunrays sieved by arrays of oak trees cast mellowed shadows on the road. Zayd took off his aviators, rolled down the windows and stuck his head out. The pine-fragrant, crisp air caressed his face and ruffled his hair, finally making him forget everything.
This is in addition to the author’s voice. The narration carries additional aspects of a character’s traits depending on the back story, beliefs, mannerism, etc. This will differ across author’s works since every character will be unique.
Taking an example from the same novel, wherein I have a character with a unique problem, which shows unique trait of the character:
“We sewve only veg food, but you can have non-veg from Waghu’s dhaba on the Lowew Mall woad,” the boy said as if he had guessed Zayd’s chain of thoughts. “Hot watew anytime, I bwing dinnew?” Poor guy not only suffered from polio but couldn’t even pronounce ‘r’. “What’s your name?” Zayd asked feeling a kinship with the disabled boy. The only difference was that Zayd’s infirmities were not apparent to the naked eye.
Be sure about the rules of grammar in the language you wish to write and then don’t be afraid to break the rules. Cultivate your own distinctive style and mesmerize the readers.
Have fun and all the very best!