Voice is essential to a good story since the narrator carries the reader through the entire story. Obviously I was able to find that compelling voice once, and I’m not sure how I lost it with the second novel. And according to my agent, even the heroine of my third novel comes off as a bit quiet despite having to fight for her life and her father’s.
I picked up “Dialogue” by Gloria Kempton hoping for some assistance with Voice. Kempton thinks that Voice is easy peasy which makes me worried that she could teach it. Usually those who find something easy can’t lay out instructions for those who struggle with that skill, but we’ll see. The publishers hired her to write the damn thing, and as Jerry Spinelli once told me, “that must mean you’re pretty good.” I’ll let you know if it was worth the $16.99.
I also mentioned that voice is a personal struggle for me. I don’t often speak up when I think it could be helpful. I speak up in all kinds of no-account situations, and in several that would have gone better if I’d shut up, but when it’s really essential, I go dumb. It’s almost a physical affliction, one I can only attribute to fear. And isn’t fear at the root of everything? Fear of failure. Fear of seeming stupid. Fear of rejection. As writers we’re constantly dealing with self-doubt and bad reviews (mostly in the form of rejection letters) but this year I’m going to dig deep to find the voiceless part of me, break her gags, and then write down every little thing she has to say. If I don’t, my characters may never have a strong enough voice.