Voice – what is it exactly?

Literary agents and acquiring editors always say they’re looking for fiction with a compelling, unique, fresh, natural voice. Then when asked to define it, they hem and haw a bit, searching for the right words to try to capture what they mean by a voice that appeals to readers and makes them want to keep reading.

From what I’ve gathered from my varied reading and workshops, the ideal “voice” is that natural, open, appealing, charismatic tone and style that draws us in and makes us feel like we know the characters well – and want to get to know them better!

How Can We Develop An Appealing Voice?

These tips, a mix of advice from others and my own ideas, will be helpful to writers who are still in the process of finding their voice or fine-tuning it to make it more relaxed, powerful and appealing.

~ Don’t lecture your readers.

As Bruce DeSilva said in his workshop on this topic at Craftfest / Thrillerfest 2012 in New York, many aspiring authors need to first free themselves from the constraints of their more formal, correct writing background, especially if it includes graduate degrees and a lot of legal, academic or business writing. So shake yourself loose of all those constraints and find your more casual, accessible, appealing inner voice. How do you do that?

~ Write in a clear, direct way.

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Jodie Renner has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Fire up Your Fiction (Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power), which has won two book awards so far. Look for her third book, Immerse the Readers in Your Story World, out soon. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her blogs, Resources for Writers and The Kill Zone, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. And sign up for her newsletter.