On Dave Hood’s blog (http://davehood59.wordpress.com), I found an interesting piece about the narrative voice and the writer’s voice. I quote from it as follows:
“What is the narrative voice? It is the quality of the narrative, whether the story is told in the first-person or the third-person. It is how the writer chooses to tell the story–casually, seriously, humorously, and so forth. The narrative voice (may) belong to a character within the story, such as the protagonist. Or when the story is told in the third-person, the narrative voice will belong to an unknown character, someone who is not a participant in the story.
The narrative voice is an extension of the writer’s voice. The writer’s voice consists of many elements, including style and tone. But the writer’s (voice) is created by many other factors, such as socioeconomic background, education, belief system, values, writing experience, and so forth.
How does the aspiring writer acquire his/her own voice? It takes time to create a voice. It begins by developing an original style. From style, the writer needs to write and gain experience. Over time, the writer’s voice emerges. It is a process.
To help develop a unique voice, the aspiring writer can do the following:
- Learn to write well. Learn the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. And then learn when to break these rules.
- Expand his/her vocabulary. The writer must use the dictionary to learn the meaning of unfamiliar words. The writer should also use a thesaurus to find similar words with different shades of meaning.
- Read widely and deeply. The writer ought to read fiction by the great writers. The writer also needs to read nonfiction, like biographies, and person essays. By doing this, the writer can learn how the masters constructed memorable fiction.
- Analyze the styles of great writers, such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and George Orwell. Analysis teaches the writer how to create setting, plot, characters, and use other literary devices.
- Experiment with different writing styles, such as word choice and syntax. Only through practice and experience will the aspiring writer develop a unique style.
- Learn the element of fiction and use them. (Plot, setting, character, conflict, and so forth.)
- Learn the literary techniques and use them. (Imagery, symbolism, allusion, and figures of speech, such as simile, metaphor, and personification.)
- Make writing a lifestyle choice. The aspiring writer must write every day. Only by writing on a regular basis will the writer develop his/her unique voice.
- Write in a way that comes naturally. The writer needs to use words and phrases that are his/her own. Imitation is (not) acceptable.
- The writer also needs to place himself/herself in the background. To do this, the writer needs to write in a way that draws the reader to the sense and style of the writing, rather than to the tone and temper of the writer.
- Avoid using a breezy manner. The breezy style is a work of an egocentric, the writer who imagines that everything that comes to mind is of interest and ought to be written on the page. Instead, the writer needs to make every word count, each word should move the story forward, and each word needs to have a purpose.”
I think that all of this is good advice, except for number 10, above. I am currently writing a fictional biography (not autobiographical) in the first person. The principal character is I, Henry Lawson. Am I Henry Lawson? No, but, inevitably, I the writer, will influence the character of Henry Lawson.
I very much agree with number 11, above: “make every word count, each word should move the story forward, and each word should have a purpose”.