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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been devouring "How To" and the like to improve my writing and learn some techniques. I kept coming across the term 'author's voice', I thought it meant style but now I'm not so sure. Could KBoarders explain to me and perhaps provide examples? I'm very keen to learn if I have an author's voice or if I've got a bad case of laryngitis lol :D
 

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It's the literary equivalent of the auteur director in that it is what is unique about the author/director that makes someone buy just because its them. E.g., I love to read anything by the late great Maeve Binchy. She didn't do series, but she wrote a style of fiction I enjoy and her skills in writing dialogue are wonderful and inspired me. So yes it is more than just style. It is what would make the book recognisable as yours even if in a completely different genre.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mercia McMahon said:
It's the literary equivalent of the auteur director in that it is what is unique about the author/director that makes someone buy just because its them. E.g., I love to read anything by the late great Maeve Binchy. She didn't do series, but she wrote a style of fiction I enjoy and her skills in writing dialogue are wonderful and inspired me. So yes it is more than just style. It is what would make the book recognisable as yours even if in a completely different genre.
Thanks Mercia!
so it's what makes a reader like a particular writer, e.g Stephen King's settings or an author's sense of humour in their works. It's very interesting :D
 

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I think of it less author voice than character voice. The same author can have a different voice depending on the book and the character narrating the story. It's style, tone, a way of phrasing the words.
 

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Michael J Elliott said:
Thanks Mercia!
so it's what makes a reader like a particular writer, e.g Stephen King's settings or an author's sense of humour in their works. It's very interesting :D
It's funny you bring up Stephen King because he has one of the strongest voices when it comes to popular authors. All 5 million Stephen King books read as though he's personally narrating a story for you. They "feel" like a Stephen King book. JK Rowling is another popular author with a very strong voice. Even her adult novels "sound" like Rowling. The names she chooses, the way she describes things... it's all very JK Rowling.

Everyone has a voice when they write, though some may have a stronger voice. Most authors draw on their lives, so their descriptions and phrasings often have specific feelings or sounds to them. For instance, a big part of Stephen King's voice is metaphors and similes relating to 1950s nostalgia or baseball. This carries through almost all his books, and it's a big part of his "voice".

Some authors have a very weak authorial voice, and this doesn't mean that it's bad. It means that they allow their characters to narrate. Other writers have such a strong voice that their characters just become vessels for that voice. Cormac McCarthy would be an example of this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
CadyVance said:
I think of it less author voice than character voice. The same author can have a different voice depending on the book and the character narrating the story. It's style, tone, a way of phrasing the words.
Ah I see Candy,
Just like Stephen King,Clive Barker and Dean Koontz all write horror they have different ways of writing characters, dialogue, etc. So is it some overriding trait that would make a reader go "aha" that comes across like JK Rowling or Dan Brown, an author's voice seems to be a very elusive and nebulous thing :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Briteka said:
It's funny you bring up Stephen King because he has one of the strongest voices when it comes to popular authors. All 5 million Stephen King books read as though he's personally narrating a story for you. They "feel" like a Stephen King book. JK Rowling is another popular author with a very strong voice. Even her adult novels "sound" like Rowling. The names she chooses, the way she describes things... it's all very JK Rowling.

Everyone has a voice when they write, though some may have a stronger voice. Most authors draw on their lives, so their descriptions and phrasings often have specific feelings or sounds to them. For instance, a big part of Stephen King's voice is metaphors and similes relating to 1950s nostalgia or baseball. This carries through almost all his books, and it's a big part of his "voice".

Some authors have a very weak authorial voice, and this doesn't mean that it's bad. It means that they allow their characters to narrate. Other writers have such a strong voice that their characters just become vessels for that voice. Cormac McCarthy would be an example of this.
Yes I totally agree with you about Stephen King and his use of "Americana" and you do feel as though the story is coming through him about the story/character whereas my favourite author, Dean Koontz has a vert 'bare bones' approach but he has a love of Golden Retrievers and they do feature in a lot of his works, even if it's only one scene, it's a bit like his logo.
 

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Michael J Elliott said:
... they do feature in a lot of his works, even if it's only one scene, it's a bit like his logo.
I've read or listened to several books now from one particular Scottish author, and in all (but one, I think - possibly one of his earlier books) he uses the word 'coruscate'. The first time I came across it I had to look it up, so I noticed it the next time and the next... I find myself wondering if it's like an 'easter egg' that he deliberately plants in his stories, or if he's not even aware that he does it? If I ever happen to meet him I'll need to remember to ask!
 

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Here's an example:

Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.

Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair but terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.

Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.


Some of the names give away that this is from The Lord of the Rings. But you don't really need the names to recognize Tolkien's writing. Who else writes like that? You won't find anything of that flavor in Game of Thrones.
 

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I've always thought that an author's voice was even more than the words, descriptions, phrasings, type of characters they used or type of book they wrote...I've always thought it was the character and soul of the writer shining through the words. When I read Stephen King I feel I know the man, the writer, as well as his characters. I look deeper. Does that sound ridiculous?
 

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I think it's part of the author's personality coming through, too.
 

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Author's voice? It's the way you tell 'em. Some writers are naturally gifted; others just never get there. It has nothing to do with command of the English language or grammatical skills or perfect syntax. It's about writing in a way that entertains and stimulates the reader's imagination.
 

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Shelagh said:
Author's voice? It's the way you tell 'em. Some writers are naturally gifted; others just never get there. It has nothing to do with command of the English language or grammtical skills or perfect syntax. It's about writing in a way that entertains and stimulates the reader's imagination.
Exactly. It's like when friends tell you a joke or talk about something that happened to them. Some have an entertaining way of telling you, others not so much, but they each have a different way of expressing themselves and that's their unique 'voice' or personality coming through.

And when your writers' voice connects with the reader, that's when the magic happens.
 

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Jack Krenneck said:
Here's an example:

Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Eowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.

Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair but terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.

Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.


Some of the names give away that this is from The Lord of the Rings. But you don't really need the names to recognize Tolkien's writing. Who else writes like that? You won't find anything of that flavor in Game of Thrones.
Confession time. I'm a fantasy author who has never read Lord of the Rings. I read the Hobbit first, and hated the patronising tone of it so much, even as a kid, that I never read the rest of the series. I tried again recently, just to see if it was as grating as I remembered, but no. One thing that stood out in particular was the way he used the phrase "you could imagine" or similar. No. Don't tell me what I could imagine. Tell me what is there. Describe it to me. Use your words! I'm angry just thinking about it. Lol

(And yet, I'm still appalled at the changes made to the movies, so there's that at least?)

I've got LotR on audiobook somewhere, and i think I may have to dig it out and listen to it while I work on my cross stitch or something, just to say that I've finally got through them. They we're a gift from a friend who became personally offended that I hadn't read it.
 

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ML-Larson said:
Confession time. I'm a fantasy author who has never read Lord of the Rings. I read the Hobbit first, and hated the patronising tone of it so much, even as a kid, that I never read the rest of the series. I tried again recently, just to see if it was as grating as I remembered, but no. One thing that stood out in particular was the way he used the phrase "you could imagine" or similar. No. Don't tell me what I could imagine. Tell me what is there. Describe it to me. Use your words! I'm angry just thinking about it. Lol

(And yet, I'm still appalled at the changes made to the movies, so there's that at least?)

I've got LotR on audiobook somewhere, and i think I may have to dig it out and listen to it while I work on my cross stitch or something, just to say that I've finally got through them. They we're a gift from a friend who became personally offended that I hadn't read it.
Well, here's another confession: I self published several ebooks without even owning an ebook reader. The situation is now rectified.

On the subject of Tolkien, you might find that TLOTR is a different animal from The Hobbit. The mood and writing style, in particular the intrusive Authorial Voice, is gone. Except perhaps for the first few hundred pages of book one. I suspect a lot of people never get past that.
 

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Jack Krenneck said:
Well, here's another confession: I self published several ebooks without even owning an ebook reader. The situation is now rectified.

On the subject of Tolkien, you might find that TLOTR is a different animal from The Hobbit. The mood and writing style, in particular the intrusive Authorial Voice, is gone. Except perhaps for the first few hundred pages of book one. I suspect a lot of people never get past that.
So I've heard. Like, it's exactly the sort of thing I love, and I will gladly sit down and watch all 14 hours or whatever of the movies. But his writing just isn't for me. Perhaps I do just need to put on my big boy pants and audiobook it.

I only went back and read the Hobbit properly when it was pointed out to me that I'd managed to include two of the dwarfs in Sky Treader, albeit in name only. When in fact, I did exactly what Tolkien probably did, and opened up my Edda to the page that lists all the dwarfs, and just plucked out a few names at random. Though, I did struggle not to use the name Gandalf, not gonna lie. He wound up being Jari instead. I still really want to name a dwarf Gandalf, but it would annoy so many people. Although, maybe it might annoy them into leaving some reviews. Even angry reviews have got to be better than no reviews, right?
 

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Michael J Elliott said:
Yes I totally agree with you about Stephen King and his use of "Americana" and you do feel as though the story is coming through him about the story/character whereas my favourite author, Dean Koontz has a vert 'bare bones' approach but he has a love of Golden Retrievers and they do feature in a lot of his works, even if it's only one scene, it's a bit like his logo.
And don't forget about Ford Explorers. Koontz loves Ford Explorers from the novels I've read.
 

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ML-Larson said:
Confession time. I'm a fantasy author who has never read Lord of the Rings. I read the Hobbit first, and hated the patronising tone of it so much, even as a kid, that I never read the rest of the series.
My wife and I, along with some friends, have been attempting to watch all 100 of the AFI's Top 100 movies for quite some time. Over the years, we've amassed quite a few, not without groans or complaint. There are two primary issues we encounter with old movies:

1) They are not good films, but they typify something important in the history of movie-making. Example: Duck Soup. LOTR does not fall into this category.

2) They are good, but they have:
a) been so incredibly stolen from that viewing them as a unique original is nearly impossible with a backwards lens (example: French Connection), and
b) they suffer mightily due to the differences between the time periods of their creation and our viewing (example: nearly all films). That, I believe is what you are suffering from.

LOTR is a great book, but it is not a book that will easily appeal to a person in 2015. It's slow and dense and deliberate, and uses a linguistic style that is easily off-putting. If you find any enjoyment from the Peter Jackson films, it is because he has taken the ideas of the old book and both modernized and visualized them. (It's a different matter with The Hobbit. I won't start.)

Anyway, I understand why you aren't able to easily delve into LOTR, but I think if you can force yourself to navigate past the old sentiments, you may well enjoy it.

K.
 

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Shelagh said:
Author's voice? It's the way you tell 'em. Some writers are naturally gifted; others just never get there. It has nothing to do with command of the English language or grammtical skills or perfect syntax. It's about writing in a way that entertains and stimulates the reader's imagination.
I agree with your point, Shelagh. A writer should write by keeping in mind about reader's opinion what they think and how they feel.
 
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