Thursday, 6 October 2011

Non-smoker: Looking to share a novel with suitable voice and genre.

When I studied Creative Writing a few years back, my tutor emphatically told the class that to write you need to find your own voice and decide on a genre. Well I’ve found my voice twenty-seven times. Yes, I have multiple writing-personality disorder. And I’ve had more genres than hot dinners. (My tutor also said avoid clichés – so pretend I didn’t say that)

The thing is, I’ve written ghost stories, murder mysteries, comedy (well attempts at), love stories, chick-lit, tear-jerkers, factual articles, a children’s novel – oh, and now I’ve completed a thriller novel - but I still can’t find my voice or my genre.

Plus, I’m continually drawn to writing in first person. I pop myself right there in the protagonist’s head, and, well, talk like them. A thousand voices – but which one’s mine? Ooh, I feel like Rory Bremner.

So this whole 'voice' thing is a bit complex then, isn’t it? If you write in first person, then you are that person, that character – they can’t all be you, can they?

I suppose, then, I’m still experimenting. And if, by some sort of miracle one of my VERY different novels are ever snapped up – I would develop that voice and run with it.

In the mean time, I'll continue to have fun experimenting with different styles and voices. In fact, I’ve got a comedy, tear-jerker with lashings of ghosts, a dollop of murder mystery and a smidgen of love interest - written through twenty different first person viewpoints, on the go right this minute. You think I'm joking. :-)


Patsy said...

Yeah, it's a bit complex. I'm not sure I've found mt voice either (I still sell stories though, so either I've found it without realising, or having one isn't absolutely vital)

Experimenting sounds like a good plan to me.

Anonymous said...

" tutor emphatically told the class that to write you need to find your own voice and decide on a genre."

Did your tutor back up these instructions with any kind of reason or justification? It's my personal belief that any "rules" for writing that have no reasoning behind them, are useless. I encounter a surprisingly large number of them.

Let's take the genre question first. Why should you choose a single genre and stick to it? I can think of no sensible reasons for this. The issue of marketing for author/genre can easily be solved by using multiple pen names. I recommend you continue to experiment with different genres. It will be more fun and there's no need to restrict yourself.

Now on to voice. I wonder whether your tutor meant that you should find your "voice" as a writer, rather than talking about characters' "voices"? As far as I understand it, these can be very different things. Characters' voices are supposed to be different. Not sure about the author's voice though – this is not something I understand well.

Amanda said...

It is complex, Patsy. I've often wondered if my stories have got any similarities that make them stand out as mine. I don't think they have, to be honest - although a fair few are ghost stories.

Hi Captain - hope you're well. My tutor did mean finding my voice as a writer – a distinctive personal style or ‘signature’ that makes my writing stand out. But, as yet, despite trying a few, I don't think I've got one.

I realise the voice of my character is different to my writer’s ‘signature’ voice – but where I fall down with that is when I’m writing in first person, and there is no ‘signature’ voice as the narrator (voice) is the character. So if I wrote in first person as, say, a 1930s policeman, he becomes the voice of the narrator, and my ‘signature’ voice (if I had one) is lost altogether, if you know what I mean. Unless, I suppose, I wrote all my pieces through the eyes of the 1930s cop.
With genre - we were told that readers will expect if you, for example, write a crime novel; that your next novel will be of the same genre. But, as you’ve pointed out, pen-names are an easy solution to that one. And I suppose you could develop a different voices for each of those genres too.
That probably made no sense at all! :-OO

DAB said...

I've lost my voice (sore throat!) Silence is golden ;-) Keep up the writing marlarkey Ms Allsorts. Remember Little Voice another lady with great talent :-)

Rebecca Alexander said...

I feel exactly the same - I think I just get bored easily and like to swap and change. Also, my reading habits are very eclectic. I was inspired by a talk by the poet Philip Gross who said the same thing. In his career he has written poetry for adults, then children, then adults again; songs and a modern opera; and lots of horror/fantasy/romance and historical novels for kids from 8 to adults. He doesn't like to get stuck in a genre. So maybe you are onto something!

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Finding your own voice is rather difficult. I've written two historical romances, one YA, and three chick lit novels and enjoyed the writing process for each of them.

Maybe I'm just confused, or my voice is. Who knows?

Diane Fordham said...

I'm a bit confused now. I thought you find your voice for a particular piece you are writing and keep that constant. Oh dear!

Amanda said...

Hee hee, DAB! I wish I had half Little Voice's talent - in writing obviously - you really wouldn't want to hear me sing! X

Hi Reb, nice to see you here. Philip Gross does sound inspirational. I'm certainly going to keep experimenting with different genres and voices, for now at least. :-)

You sound just like me, Debs. I like to get up in the morning and look at all my different projects and decide which fits my mood!:-)

That is true, Diane - and as womag writers, I think that seems to work just fine - in fact, I know I've got a different voice for TaB than I have for My Weekly, for example. I suppose voice comes into play when you write more than one novel and the reader buys your novel expecting the same voice - if you know what I mean. (I'm not sure I do - so you're doing well if you do!) ;-)


Colette McCormick said...

Though I understand what your tutor was getting at, I think that your own writing voice can be as varied as your natural voice and develops as we develop. As for sticking to one thing, again I understand what they are saying but think that you then run the risk of writing to a plan and running th erisk of "read one - read 'em all". Good luck with the course.

Amanda said...

Yes, you're right, Colette - I suppose you have to be the same enough to recognised and different enough to be interesting. :-)

David said...

An interesting topic, Mandy. It does seem to be one of those things we wannabe writers are told to try and develop. I have to admit it confuses me a little. The writers I love are the ones that can tell a great story time after time but those stories are varied in terms of character, plot and often genre too. I suppose there is something about all their writing though that is essentially 'them'.

It's great you can write in so many genres. Keeps it interesting for the reader and just as importantly you.

I look forward to your zoombie western hitting the shelves!


Talli Roland said...

Wow, you have a lot going on! :) I think I'd be scared to be inside you head.

Amanda said...

Hi David, Good to see you here :-)) I think you're right, it's that distinctive *something* And now you've gone and let the cat out of the bag, I was keeping my zombie western a secret. LOL! X

I am scared, Talli!

Flowerpot said...

I think it also depends on what hyou're writing. I write my walks differently to other articles and then write novels differently to that. Does that help?!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda,I think finding your voice is a bit silly if it's fiction you're writing. It's made up isn't it? If you've sold 21 stories, I'd say you're doing something right. Looking forward to reading your novels one day. I've put you on the list of friendly bloggers for an award, it's on my blogsite to pick up only if you want to though. No obligation.

Amanda said...

I agree, FP... I've just tried a story for People's Friends that has a completely different voice to one I'm working on for Take a Break. And I have various novel projects on the go all with different voices. I suppose if I was ever successful with more than one novel HA!... I'd have to have a couple of pen names - like you do! :-)

Ooh, thank you, Sue - I'll be right over, very kind of you! :-)

Karen said...

I think 'finding a voice and genre' is quite common writing advice, particularly for novels. I realised quite early on that mine is 'humorous' and 'commercial' and comes more naturally to me than any other style. To be able to sustain a tone for around 80,000 words it's crucial to feel comfortable doing it. I think your 'true' style comes out regardless, almost subconsciously. I tried writing something dark years ago, but as I went along I found the humour and silliness starting to creep in, so I guess that's me - silly!

Short stories are different though, and I enjoy taking on different voices and styles for those :o)

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

I like the sound of the WIP.


Amanda said...

I agree totally Karen. I think my true voice is veering towards something a bit gritty, with the odd character who is humorous so I can release that part of me that's always itching to get onto the page. But that's this week! :-) x

It's different, Suz! :-) x

Maria said...

It gives us the chance to explore different personalities. I haven't really found my voice yet either. I've tried ghost stories and romance and kitchen sink dramas. Only a ghost story actually sold so far. Then there was the expat story. So it leaves me rather confused sometimes. My one and only completed novel was sort of romantic - but the predictable HEA never happened. It was probably more women's fiction than romantic. Oh, well, I'll keep going, wondering where will it all end.

Amanda said...

Good luck finding your voice, Maria. It's fun searching for it though, isn't it!? :-)