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Exploring Your Inner Voice


Humorous.  Dark.  Vivid.  Lively.  Melancholic. 

It’s quite possible you have a touch of all these styles.  Good.  I certainly believe in being well-rounded when it comes to voice.  However, sometimes nailing your “voice” is tough. 

I struggle with it a lot in my book length manuscripts–struggle to the point where there are days I convince myself that this is an exercise in futility, that my writing still isn’t solid enough, still isn’t completely me.  There are times I can write humor and there are times when it falls so hideously flat, fresh eyes make me take a good second look and I cringe in shame. 

Eek!!  I swear, it was funny in my head!  (Doesn’t it seem the scene is ALWAYS better in your head? <g>)

If you’ve read the two rough drafts above in my page sections, you’ve seen two very different styles of writing.  Valen Greer is more dark, gritty and emotional.  Norse Gods is a mouthy romp with a surprise ending.  Valen, even though it barely resembles the story it eventually became, is the more marketable style.  I love writing that gritty, gut wrenching stuff.  (Trippin’ on the dark side, yeah baby.)

The Norse Gods story was nothing but fun, plain and simple.  I wrote it from a pretty detailed challenge and had a blast doing so.  It’s not marketable, though.  Can you imagine a place that would take a silly little romp about annoyed gods in a Starbucks? 

Thing is, writing just for fun is a good thing.  When I’m not targeting something specific and when I let my inner voice fly free, I tend to discover a magic in the process, something that is solid and very much me.  I tend to discover key elements to my voice.  And every now and then, that ‘fun’ writing can be taken further into something marketable.

It’s one of the reasons I keep up the Scene From a Pic.  It does nothing more than free up your creative muse and help you develop that voice of yours.  Hopefully, every now and then, it’ll help you discover an aspect to your writing you didn’t know existed. 

And sometimes, that discovery is something so freaking cool, you’ll be able to free it up for the rest of your writing. 


  1. January 30, 2007    

    The scenes may not be better in my head, but the voices I hear sure are. Ha!

    I like your voice from what I have read. I find the more an author “worries” about their voice, the further they become from it.

    Where can I buy some o’ yo’ wine, lady? Don’t you like my idea: Write Snark Red?

  2. January 30, 2007    

    I don’t sell my wine. It’s illegal. Oh, I’ve thought about doing Write Snark Riesling and Write Snark Merlot, etc… how fun would that be? I do end up giving away a lot of wine. I make it as Christmas gifts and I take it to writer gatherings. The Oklahoma Romance Writers pretty much insist I bring it to the retreats. heh heh

    I make it more for fun and because I love wine. I love to drink it and I especially love to cook with it. I make fun, fruity stuff for summer drinking and the dry stuff for cooking. I do plan to try the Green apple riesling over pork though. I make my own Pinot, Merlot, Beaujolais, Rieslings, Chardonnay… you name it. It’s my side hobby.

    Yes, worrying about voice messes it up, there’s no doubt of that. But when writing 100 thousand words, I find myself going all over the place sometimes. It’s probably more of a character voice thing in this case. Means, I don’t have them down pat yet. But I find the most “me” when I write just for the pleasure of it.

  3. January 30, 2007    

    I worked at a winery called Davis Bynum Wines. Davis started out as a hobbyist in Berkeley and took off from there. His crappy wines he labeled “Barefoot Bynum” and sold to college kids near the campus. Davis owed some guy money and in exchange, he gave the guy the Barefoot label. Barefoot is now kicking everybody’s asses in the cheap but good plog category, and making that guy a fortune.

    Having spent years being the “fix it” guy for a lot of small wineries, I’d sure like to know how you make wine on a small scale, and where in the world do you get your grapes?

    Oh yeah, do you crush with your bare toes?

    As to voice lessons… I find it isn’t so much “finding a voice” that is difficult, it is in finding a voice that no one has heard before.

    I think lots of people can write like Hemingway. Too many people, in fact…

  4. January 30, 2007    

    Aww, now I feel guilty again. Your writing is very strong. No one’s second draft is perfect. And I really hope you’re not judging what’s funny based solely on whether or not I “got it.” I’m learning that my sense of humor apparently has little in common with anyone elses.

    I can NOT write funny.

  5. carol carol
    January 30, 2007    

    You know, I can’t just write a funny scene. My character has to have a sense of humor and be willing to express it. The humor may not even work for the rest of the characters in the book, it’s simply that character’s voice and way of viewing the world. I think to write funny for the sake of funny is something comedians do, like that hysterically funny, skinny, dark-haired lady with the soft voice who says such outrageous things,and of course her name is out of my head.

    I can kind of tell when the voice is strong when I read my writing, and voice is stronger for me when I write 1st person.

    BTW all this talk of wine makes me thirsty. Some “Write Snark” something would be lovely.

  6. January 30, 2007    

    Scott, I get most of my supplies from here

    So far, I haven’t ventured beyond the kits that will give me an average of 30 bottles a batch. These are 4 and 6 week brews and though some are okay to drink right away like the Island Mist fruity stuff, most need to age a decent time.

    I thought I’d really messed up the first time I made Pinot so I left the bottles alone and just cooked with them. After six months, I opened one with a friend and we were shocked at how good it was.

    A kit runs me anywhere from $50 to $120 or so, so it’s most definitely cheaper to make my own. Plus, I can manipulate the kits to my taste, add sweeteners or let them brew longer, etc. I really love it. I’ve made wine for friend’s weddings and business Christmas parties. Since they were family, I donated as my gifts–that sort of thing. I’ve heard you can sell the cork with a complimentary bottle of wine, but that’s seems too iffy for me. It would be nice to make a living doing something like this, but I can’t imagine what it would take for approval. 🙂

    Carol, are you Shenhold Carol? Because if you are, you can too write funny.

    Rachel, no guilt. We both decided to be brutally honest and though, I cringed when I saw it through your eyes, if I hadn’t, I might have sent that scene to an agent or editor. Ouch. I much, much, much rather knowing it can be better and that with extra work, I can make it a great scene. Besides, I was trying to cram the whole ghoul/fight scene into the end of that chapter and that was ridiculous. You also pointed out some major inconsistencies in my heroine’s behavior. Like I said, I’m trying to get better–so you have less work. And I’m roaring to go today–I’m going back and switching those first chapters… jeez, I’ll email you. heh heh

  7. S S
    January 31, 2007    

    Voice can be frustrating. I think each of us has many “voices”, and need to connect with the voice in the story. Which can be very frustrating.

  8. January 31, 2007    

    Rinda, I think you hit on an important concept here, which applies to writing but also “the rest of life.” I hate it when I put boundaries on myself, when I let myself become the opposite of free by listening to a critical inner voice which sometimes whispers, sometimes shouts, “That was dumb!” “What were you thinking?” “She hates you.” etc. I’m not sure where the balance lies in listening to that voice for appropriate self-restraint, and shunning that voice for necessary self-expression. It’s a line I’m still trying to find. Meanwhile, I do love freeing myself to write (at least in my journal).

    Thanks for stopping by today. It means a lot to me. Bellezza

  9. January 31, 2007    

    For some reason, I put those boundaries on the longer pieces and let them go in the shorter. I soooo need to be consistent here.

  10. January 31, 2007    

    Cool blog! Hi Rinda. 🙂 Was looking for you as I picked your name to win a copy of Untouched over at Jill’s blog — just drop me a note…

    Oh, on voice. I just don’t know anymore. I thought I knew, but while I might have many tones to my voice, I tend to think about it more in keeping with style, and how many tones your writing will let you express at any one time. Or, perhaps related to genre — I don’t have a voice for writing horror for instance, and I think that’s because I never watch it, never have. So external things could influence our voice. On the other hand, I’ve read category romance long before I knew it was even called that, since I was about 12, and I seem to write category like it’s genetically programmmed into me — my voice just fits. However, this makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to break out of that…

    Anyway… enough angst! LOL


  11. January 31, 2007    

    I won something? Cool! I didn’t know I was in the running for anything.

    How funny! I started reading category romances around that age, too and I really had this dream of writing them. I wrote five categories and whenever they were submitted, the editors would pretty much tell me I didn’t have a category voice and that I dealt with too many mainstream issues.

    I’ve published short horror but it’s the psychological sort. I have a fascination with how the mind works.

  12. January 31, 2007    

    I think we need to mind meld… I need some of that mainstream voice, LOL.

    Though seriously, I love and respect category fiction, and will happily write it forever, but feel that it’s a career necessity to try to do new things, but also break through limits… or try, anyway. 😉 Sometimes you have an idea that won’t fit a line, or there’s the idea of trying to have some security in working for more than one pub. Pesky voice doesn’t always cooperate, does it?

    Your book is on the way! 😉 Well, as soon as I get to the po… LOL


  13. January 31, 2007    

    I never want to write just one kind of thing and William has it right as well. The character’s individual voice does need to come through strong.

    Ooh, mind meld. Wonder if that hurts?

  14. January 31, 2007    

    I didn’t get too involved with the brewery page, but I still wonder where the grapes come from?

    I live on two acres surrounded by 40 acres of vineyards. I grew up in Sonoma County and know Napa wines well…

    Where do hobbyist get their grapes?

  15. January 31, 2007    

    I don’t have a kit on me right now, but I plan to pick a couple up next week. I’ll see if the grape location is in the small print and let you know. I think the Grape and Granary website might have some info, but I’m not sure. It’s http://www.grapeandgranary.com

    I would love to be surrounded by vineyards. Lucky.

  16. January 31, 2007    

    Um, I actually liked the Norse gods in Starbucks story.

    You’re so right, in terms of finding a voice. I came to novel writing via screenplays, where I really spoke through my character’s voices, not my own. Consequently, most of my non-screewriting fiction is in first or second person.

    One of these days, I’ll find a voice though. When I do, third-person here I come!

  17. January 31, 2007    


    Since you seem to be engrossed with the idea of obtaining grapes, here is what five minutes of research discovered:



    http://www.vinebydesign.com/grapes.htm (Rinda, this one is in OK)

    http://www.californiagrapes.com/ (Here’s one close to you, Scott)

  18. February 1, 2007    

    I write stronger in 1st person. I really like writing in 3rd though, so I’m working on the same thing. I liked the Norse Gods thing, too. Had fun writing it. But I don’t think it could sell anywhere since it doesn’t really have a short story structure. Hmm… I don’t know what you do with pieces like that one. I do like writing them, though.

    Hey, did you ever find Doc-T? He still hasn’t answered any emails.

  19. February 1, 2007    

    Nor has he answered mine. I guess I’ll try again anon.

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