Get a Voice: Writer, What is Yours?

Welcome back to Excerpt Thursday. I missed a week. Sorry about that.

Excerpt Thursday is where (when?) I excerpt a book about writing, rave about it, and ask questions.

This week the book is still The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. And this week it’s about voice.

You may not notice voice when you read. All you may notice is that you like spending time with the main character. A good example is Bobbie Faye in Toni McGee Causey’s Charmed and Dangerous. Bobbi Faye has a life I wouldn’t want in a million years. she’s got so many problems casading around her (you’ll have to read the book for the juicy stuff). What I like about her is her spunk and how deeply she cares about her world and her family in it while everything that is falling apart. I’m enjoying the ride. Everything’s got to work out in the end, right? Bobbie Faye’s voice is disctinctive, spunky, hilarious, and poingant. Actually, the that voice belongs to the author, Toni McGee Causey. Well done!

By contrast, another novel I’m reading (staying nameless) makes me care not even a little for the characters, the setting, or the plot. Why? The main character has a typical voice, one I’ve heard a million times. She has no spine, except a humor that sounds like so many other books I read. Was the author copying? I don’t know. Maybe the author wasn’t digging deep enough for that unique voice.

Let’s see what Maass has to say about about voice.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald MaassAny characters can stand out without being a ridiculous caricature. It may only be a matter of digging inside to find out what makes him different and distinct from you and me. It can be as simple as giving him his own unique take on things. …

“What kind of opinions do your characters have? How do they express them? You can develop the way they talk, or their outlook and opinions, or both. In doing so you will be developing not just characters more interesting to read about but a voice of your own that speaks with greater force and authority.”

– The Fire in Fiction: Passion, purpose, and techniques to make your novel great by Donald Maass

What is disctinct and unique about your character? Pick details out of the ordinary. Your character has opionions. Express them.

Happy Writing!

c. 2009 Beth Barany

Who Beth Barany works with are aspiring authors. She helps them get writing and get their books out into the world. Find out more in her latest book, The Writer’s Adventure Guide: 12 Stages to Writing Your Book, or at her site:

Excerpt used based on Fair Use laws.

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