11 thoughts on “JOURNAL # 13

  1. Adam Race
    Journal 13 – Chapter 8: Voice

    Similar to the author of this book, I too didn’t really understand the concept and importance of voice until taking a look at chapter 8. This author gives a really powerful example of how he first experienced voice on a book reading night at a bar with his short story in which he was struggling to find a voice for. The author got on stage and found a voice, but until then, he had a difficult time finding the voice, and that is how I feel while writing my short story for class. I think I have interesting characters and a pretty developed plot and setting, but for some reason, I struggle trying to find the right voice to portray the story with and keeping that voice consistent. The author explains on the first page three important take-aways about voice, in which I think the third one about making the voice sound natural is where I am running into problems with my own writing. I think the type of voice I am striving for in my story is more on the spectrum of conversational voice, however, it is difficult for me to maintain a consistent conversational voice as well as share the important pieces of information I am trying to compel. While I think I am striving for a conversational voice, I do not know if I am fluent enough in the jargon of fishermen that I need to be in order to maintain that consistency and “natural” feeling of the voice throughout the story. I believe that I am working with an informal voice narration in my piece. I am able to show the lives of these fishermen, to what I think that is, and still be able to show important pieces of their culture and character that is important for the message in a story.

  2. Before reading this chapter, I could never really grasp the concept of the voice of the writer like the author mentioned in the beginning. I’d always thought it was just the voice of each character. I never got how some authors were described to have a unique voice. How could the voice be theirs if the story is being told by the characters? What was really helpful for me in this chapter was where they made the distinction between voice and style. Ultimately, everything in the story will be affected by the writing style. They described the style as the technical choices a writer makes to structure their story. Voice comes as a result of those choices. For example, a writer may choose to have a lot of repeating, short sentences and the resulting voice from that can be shell-shocked or disoriented. I’m still not sure if a writer can have one overarching voice for all of their work. But they can adopt a style depending on what each character is feeling. 

  3. Journal 13: Chapter 8

    Voice can be rather complex and sometimes confusing when trying to write while thinking about it. As the author of this chapter states: “My fiction students often get confused between the voice of a piece and the writers’ voice, and with good reason.” That’s because while each writer does have a distinct voice, it often differs on the narration level. Voice can take an infinite variety of sounds, often pertaining to the point of view of the narrator. It is usually more confusing to write from the second or third person narrator because they may be close to the characters but they also may be very distant. There are casual voices, informal voices, and formal voices. Each use of the different types of “formality” can be just as effective as they help to shape what you as the writer want the reader to get from the story. This chapter also mentions how people often use the terms “style” and “voice” interchangeably but “there’s an enormous difference between the writer’s perspective. Style consists of carious technical choices made by the writer and the voice is the sum result of those choices.” Thus, it is important to be aware of how such choices make-up the overall story.

  4. Voice is a crucial part of any story, as it’s the sound of your story. It’s what your readers hear. The chapter describes voice as something that should seem relaxed and natural. You want what your character says and sounds like to match the way you’ve written them. A college scholar should sound like one, and a child should sound like a child. The chapter describes the different styles of voice, and one of the ones I took note of was the controversial voice. This style allows your character to speak their mind and say anything they want to. It basically takes away the filter. But when using it, we need to be careful to not say too much and sound like a blabbering secret teller. Another style was informal voice, which is a frequently used style. It allows you to let your character speak their mind without sounding like they’re having a conversation with the reader. This takes away the fear of giving away too much.
    Along with carefully choosing your voice, you need to make sure the style you use fits. Your voice needs to fit your narrator/ character. If it doesn’t, and it sounds completely wrong for who you’ve written (a normal six-year-old using college level English skills), the story will sound off and it will be harder for your reader to form a connection with the story. However, voice doesn’t need to be normal or expected. You can make it up and create your own story with it. After you begin writing, the way you format your paragraphs and the length is completely up to you. They help to set up your voice. You can separate out all your thoughts, or push them all together to create the tone you want. The best piece of advice I think they give is to be consistent with whatever you choose to do. You want your reader to understand your words and meaning and not become confused or disengaged.

  5. overall I found this chapter to be quite interesting, the concept of a voice in writing has always been a bit of a confusing. Now it was always quite easy for me to see the voice of a writers whenever i would devour a book series i could always describe to someone the “voice” of the author. However defining my own writing voice has always stumped me. this chapter however certainly helps in terms of expanding and fleshing out my writing voice.

  6. I think that this chapter was important because it differentiated POV and voice. Often, I view both of these things as the same (and, either way, I think them to be remarkably difficult). The most helpful piece of advice I found was at the beginning of the chapter, where the author stated “However, the best thing you, as a writer, can do is to concentrate on the narrator’s voice of each individual piece of fiction.” (172) Additionally, I felt as though the overall take-away from this chapter was to use voice meaningfully, but within moderation. For instance, if Clockwork Orange had been written entirely in the most extremely imagined derived version of the new language, the meaning of the novel would have been likely confounded. However, because the voice has been pushed to the furthest extent of moderation it is intriguing enough to warrant reading the story. I think that this is one of the most meaningful warrants of voice— it allows the reader to get to know the character as they know others— from the information they supply to them. I think that this viewpoint helps when trying to utilize the last tip provided by the chapter, which was to “…test your voice with a real voice.” (194). This is only possible if the character’s experiences define their voice, because otherwise they’ll be a rather convoluted version of the writer’s inner monologue regarding the story (which I think would be rather interesting, but it is not really the goal).

  7. One of the most important points that I picked up in this chapter is the idea of making the voice of the character sound like that character sound. This idea was brought up in class last week as well during the discussion on dialogue, and the example that was used in Jane Eyre where young eight year old Jane describes her aunt as her “foe.” This raised some interesting conversation about not necessarily writing in your own voice, but instead taking on the voices of your characters. This is especially important if writing in first person, where the style of narration needs to fit the bill for the character who is narrating the story.
    Another part of this chapter that I found particularly interesting was the section about informal voice. I liked the description of how the narration of your first person perspective story can be informal, but it should not be too casual as it will distract the reader from otherwise good writing, or it could just be classified as not so good writing in general. As it says in the book “you can dress down, but at least tuck in your shirt.” To me, this means that the narrator can have the voice that they would normally have, but just a little more polished, like if they were at an interview or meeting a new and high class person for the first time. That might be a weird way to look at it, but it works for me.

  8. One of the most important points that I picked up in this chapter is the idea of making the voice of the character sound like that character sound. This idea was brought up in class last week as well during the discussion on dialogue, and the example that was used in Jane Eyre where young eight year old Jane describes her aunt as her “foe.” This raised some interesting conversation about not necessarily writing in your own voice, but instead taking on the voices of your characters. This is especially important if writing in first person, where the style of narration needs to fit the bill for the character who is narrating the story.
    Another part of this chapter that I found particularly interesting was the section about informal voice. I liked the description of how the narration of your first person perspective story can be informal, but it should not be too casual as it will distract the reader from otherwise good writing, or it could just be classified as not so good writing in general. As it says in the book “you can dress down, but at least tuck in your shirt.” To me, this means that the narrator can have the voice that they would normally have, but just a little more polished, like if they were at an interview or meeting a new and high class person for the first time. That might be a weird way to look at it, but it works for me

  9. I really like the different types of voice that are presented in this chapter. Voice was one of those things that I acknowledged distantly but never really thought about in much detail, and I suspect this has to do with me writing from only third person so often. Looking at the examples here, I can see that I am often writing in either conversational or informal voice. I like to do this because it allows me, and the audience reading, to feel much closer to the main protagonist. I tend to write narration in what I imagine the protagonist would write in. It is kind of like a way for me to write in first person without really writing in first person. I noticed that in my current story I am writing for my class, my main protagonist is learning how to write while she is on bedrest. I would like to find some way to incorporate this into the narration. She is pretty depressed right now, so maybe increasing the way she describes her surroundings and how she sees her world as she recovers physically and learns how to write as time goes on could be an interesting way to show her progress in both.

  10. This was definitely the most difficult chapter that I have read so far in terms of its application to my own writing experience. Whenever I write short fiction, I tend to make each character talk and think in the same way I would normally talk and think. I believe this tactic does have merit in some cases, but when it comes to making different characters with different personalities, voicing is an extremely effective way to convey unique features. As a chronic over-thinker, I began reading this chapter thinking, “how in the world am I supposed to manifest a new voice on a page?” I found some relief when Griffin stated that “The dirty truth is that a piece’s voice is created by the most elemental tools in writing—namely, that words you pick, how you string them together in a sentence, and how you mix and match your sentences to form paragraphs” (182). All of the previous elements that we’ve discussed in this book so far work together to create voice. Perhaps I’ll mix up the types of voices I use, too, since I almost exclusively write fiction with the informal voice.

  11. This chapter was interesting and a pleasant read. I didn’t feel like anything covered was overtly complex, each title given to a type of voice made sense, and the difference between style and voice was a new thought, but one that was easily understood. Typically in my writing, I use an informal voice with longer sentence structures and complex diction. I think I do this because I enjoy wording things eloquently. Like a painter using an array of colors, I enjoy using all my tools and giving as much detail as I can without becoming over bearing. One thing I would comment on is possible the ceremonial voice. The examples given were older ones, so does writing in a ceremonial voice require old English or simply over-elegant words and sentence structure. I imagine it’s the latter, but old English tends to come across as very ceremonial due to the way of writing used in that era.
    I could imagine myself branching into other voices, especially using the very thought interject or journal entry format. Those seem challenging and potentially beneficial in telling a story depending on the characters and overall effect being aimed for.

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