Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To catch a reader

What makes someone pick up a book and keep reading it?

Yes cover art is important, after all, our eyes can't get past the dislike of something. EVEN if it's being talked about a lot. That is the first thing that catches our eye.

Then there's the first few pages, the key point in which you need to grab the reader. Engage them. Captivate them.

How easy is that?

When I first started writing I had no idea what to do. I started this blog and thought that it would push me to write a book. It worked. It also allowed me to realize how out of reality I was. Ideas are great but it's what you do with them is most important.

Voice is key. How do you obtain it?

Reading.

I found the easiest thing for me was to read A LOT. I started with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and if you've blogged with me from the get go you'll know she is my favorite romance author ever!

I mimicked her writing style, I just wanted to get words out on paper. It took me weeks to write something solid and even then it still didn't feel like my own. Page by page I continued to write and slowly I started using my own voice, Susan Elizabeth Phillips soon disappeared and it was just me and what I wanted. I felt the words, the characters, the life I'd created.

If you're engaged in the story, chances are that your readers will be too.

How did you gain your voice?

37 comments:

Trisha Leaver said...

I honestly don't know how I came about my voice, but I will say it never changes. Whether I am writing YA Contemporary, Dystopian, or Sci-Fi, my voice seems to stay the same. Obviously each character, each genre has it's own unique style, but The structure of my sentences, the way I string my words together, and the edge never seem to sway.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

I have no idea, and that's the truth. I wrote a lot of crap to get to the book that landed me the agent so. . . I guess somewhere along the way I found my voice:)

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

Yes, gooood! good!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

My voice came naturally, of course it took work to fine tune it, but I just wrote what I was thinking and it was there (Deep)

Laura Pauling said...

Like you, I started by imitating authors I loved but recently I went back and read them and was relieved to find I sounded nothing like them! And practice. and reading helps.

DRC said...

A LOT - and I mean years worth - of writing and practice.

Sarah said...

It was mostly just there, but with a lot of YA reading and some great betas and cps, it's certainly been refined.

Em-Musing said...

My voice actually developed when I wrote radio spots. I also developed my voiceover talent by doing the different voices in the spot. It was humor that always spoke the loudest, and felt the truest, and that's my voice in writing. Just hope it works as well in my novels as it did in radio spots. My blog is also a sample of my voice

Jessica Bell said...

In the beginning I started out mimicking the typical women's fiction voice, but sooner or later I realized it just wasn't me. Now, I'm just me. and I'm happy with that :o)

But you're right, trying to mimic someone does help you put a foot in the right direction.

B Kaur said...

I started out mimicking my favourites, too. But after a while, as I learnt more about writing, I started to shape those voices to my own mold. I suppose that's how I found my voice. But sometimes I think I'm still finding it, still experimenting and learning every day...

Pk Hrezo said...

For me, my voice came by simply writing and reading. With each new story I'd hone in on that voice. Blogging helped me realize MY voice and apply it to my stories. But reading other stories helped me notice their voice and how I could cultivate my own. It really is something that comes over time and thru perseverance.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Oh man, it took me FOREVER to find my voice. I'm starting my fourth novel and I finally feel like I have it down. But like you, I read a LOT. And wrote a LOT. And then I developed characters really, really thoroughly so that their voices could come through as strongly as mine does :)

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

I gained my voice in a manner that was similar to yours. However, when I tried to mimic the style of other authors it never came out the same.

I finally figured out the reason for this. As you know, voice is the words/language an author uses to tell a story. By the time my voice was inserted, the style wound up somewhere between mine and the other author. After lots and lots and lots of practice, my style is beginning to emerge from the dark and distant cavern it was hiding in.

A few thousand more drafts and who knows, maybe my style will take up residence.(;

Laura Marcella said...

A cool exercise my college creative writing professor had us do is similar to yours: we wrote a story in the voice of a favorite author. But when you'd reread it, you'd find another voice had somehow gotten through- your own!

I was never any good at copying another author's voice. I suppose that's because I've been a writer since I was a little kid, so I guess I already developed my voice over time. It's definitely changed as I grew older and more mature, but I think the essence is still there.

lynnrush said...

Voice? What's that?

I stumbled into mine, much like I did this whole writing thing. :) I had someone read my work and they mentioned how they liked my voice.

I went on a mission to learn what she meant and learned about it. I decided that reading tons and watching movies really helped with developing my voice.

Well, and writing a bunch of drivel so I could see what didn't work.... LOL

Pauline Barclay said...

I've haven't a clue... laugh, but once I've created my characters they talk to me in their own voice...ok I hear you say, I'm potty...probably! Lovely blog! x

Creepy Query Girl said...

well, Julie Andrews helped me get started with my first project but eventually she sent me off to fly with my own wings.

Dafeenah said...

I had no idea about voice until I started blogging. I assumed I didn't have one so I went looking for it only to realize it was in my back pocket the whole time. I think a lot of writers have their voice they just don't know they have it.

Carolyn V said...

I wrote and wrote until my crit group said, "Oh yeah. That's your voice. Keep it." Although,it did take me a while to figure it out. =)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i just read a lot and wrote a lot and before i knew it, my voice just creeped in. Some days it's stronger than others, though. And it tend to be a bit formal, so it requires revision

Myne Whitman said...

I would say just keep writing. Many things get readers, from blurbs to covers, to reviews, to first lines, first paragraphs, first pages, etc.

The truth is that not everyone will read you, and not everyone who reads you will like you. But if you stay true to your voice, then those that like you will end up loving you.

Kristin Rae said...

Definitely reading a lot. I got a feel for how others were doing it, what struck me and what didn't... and I developed my own style from there. :)

Canyon Girl said...

I'm not a writer, but reading blogs by writers is very inspiring. Maybe, maybe, I will try something.....

Carrie said...

I read a lot but I also write. I journal. I've participated in NaNoWriMo three different years and while I haven't written novels I feel I can revise I've tried different things. But I think all the reading and writing I've done has helped me with my current WIP.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I found my voice by starting with the voice of my very colorful, larger-than-life, 3rd grade son's voice. :-)

Thomasina said...

I'm still in the reading everything stage, but my voice is getting established. Once I get the chance to write more, I'm sure my voice will be solid.

Julie said...

I started off pretty much the same as you, only I found my love of writing at a very young age when I was obsessed with the Sweet Valley Twins books. I even created my own series, eerily similar to those stories.
Reading them now, though, I can see how quickly I developed my own voice and even though the stories were basically a rip-off, they weren't bad and I had a ton of imagination.
Now I'm proud of my voice. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Part of my movie-watching habits spilled over and I write like it's a movie. I also enjoy Timothy Zhan's rapid style of writing, expecially his Star Wars books, so that had some influence.

Candyland said...

I write like I hear the thoughts swimming in my head. Good or bad, that's just how it comes out.

Talli Roland said...

A lot of trial and error! It took lot of writing before I finally felt comfortable with 'me'.

Jennie Bailey said...

Years of writing! It took years to gain my voice. Now that I have it, I can see it in each of my projects. It's very cool! You come up with the best blogpost topics!!

anthony stemke said...

My spouse, the Education tipster has a good voice. Her two children's books coming out now are perfect fun teaching books with cute stories.
Look for her Virtual Book Tour end of June.

Meredith said...

I'm the same way: I only found my voice through writing. A ton of writing. But it's such an amazing experience, isn't it?

csdaley.com said...

The first novel I published I used a device to help me with my voice. I decided to write like I was watching an old serial that used to play before a movie. Keep the action moving, end on cliff hangers.

My zombie novel was a little more difficult. I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be funny with a touch of horror. I also wanted it to be in 1st person with a zombie as the main character. It took some rewrites before I felt like I found my voice. I ended up picking a comedian from an old television show and made him the zombie in my head. It took off after that. Even though ultimately my zombie sounded nothing like the tc character.

Gail said...

I am still looking for my voice. I blog, I write shorts but a book is something I can only dream about.

Elena Solodow said...

The first time I really found a voice was writing letters to my overseas boyfriend at the time. i realized I could be clever and decided to translate it to fiction. Things progressed from there!

Stephsco said...

I just wanted to say I enjoy your blog so much! How is your querying going? I hope one of your books finds a home!