Wow. It’s been a little rough getting back into the groove after such a fun week. Doing dishes and laundry has definitely lost it’s appeal. Okay, there wasn’t much appeal to begin with, but I was spoiled last week.

I met some amazing writers who became friends and by the end of the week I felt full to bursting with wisdom, knowledge, advice, inspiration… I could go on forever, but I narrowed it down to a few things I’d like to blog about over the next week or so. Here is #1:


Voice was something I heard over and over and over during the conference. What’s the #1 thing editors and agents look for in a manuscript? Voice.

It’s a slippery subject, one that people grapple with in various ways. I’ve heard a few good definitions, yet it continues to be a bit of an enigma only because it’s not a tangible tool that writer’s can consciously whip out when they want. I’ve heard some give “tips” on how to improve voice, but I don’t think voice is something a writer can be prescriptive about. It’s either there or it’s not.

Really? No advice? It’s like the “It-Factor?” Sort of.

The best advice I’ve heard given on voice came from Orson Scott Card at the LTUE conference a few years ago. He said something like this: A writer shouldn’t worry about voice; just worry about telling your story as clearly and honestly as possible and the voice will be there naturally.

It sounds a little too simple for something so important, and so it is. To tell a story clearly is actually dang hard, therefore voice is intricately connected to the level of skill the writer possesses. A strong voice is a manifestation of your honesty as a person and your authority of the craft. That’s what I think, anyway.




  1. Yeah, voice seems to be one of those things that you either have or you don’t. Happily, everyone has a different opinion about what a good voice sounds like. So just because one agent isn’t totally into your voice doesn’t mean another won’t be.

    That said, I did read an excellent chapter in Donald Maass’s most recent book, THE FIRE IN FICTION, about developing your CHARACTERS’ voices, because that is a technique, which means it’s something you can learn and improve.

    • Liesl

    • June 28, 2010

    • 6:09 pm

    True Krista. There is a difference between author voice and character voice and agree that the character voice can be worked and tweaked more than the author voice.

    And you are right that agents tastes on this subject can vary widely. Some really want a quirky, identifiable voice, while others just want it to fade into the background of the story. It’s all so subjective!

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