Wednesday’s Words — Voice: Being Yourself in Words

“Voice” is a difficult technique for new writers to master but, like compost, voice happens. It’s who we are, how we write, what we believe.

I’ve heard that a good actor is one who can be himself in front of the camera. Maybe that’s what defines a good writer, too — one who can be him/herself in words. We shouldn’t be afraid to be who we need to be and to write what we need to write. (You don’t have to be yourself, of course. You can be anyone you want if you can make yourself believe it. And if you believe that this is true, you can believe anything.)

I never wanted to write the great American or the great international novel, I just wanted to write a book people would enjoy reading. But now I want more. I want to be an extraordinary writer.

I know I over-think things. When I’m not writing, I think about writing, which is not always a good thing. But still, I have written four novels, and at least one, maybe two are good. Unfortunately, simply being good isn’t good enough. With hundreds of thousands of books being written every year, something has to make one stand up and scream to be read.

Since I am going to continue writing, I figure I have two options: go for quantity or quality. Quantity gets me nothing except more books that lack a strong readership. So I’m left with Quality with a capital Q. But perhaps quality comes from quantity. I recently read that the first million words are just for practice, so I’m halfway there.

A friend suggested that I keep writing and, maybe in the eighth novel, the hints of the extraordinary in what I have now will emerge full blown from the shadows of my former novels.

Good advice for all of us.


About the author

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I, all available from Amazon and Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Watch for Light Bringer coming in March, 2011.

»» One Response to “Wednesday’s Words — Voice: Being Yourself in Words” »»
  1. Beth says:

    Not just good advice, but great advice. We will always improve when we write more and read more.

    I’m always thinking about writing in some way too, so I understand when you say it might be too much. Sometimes I’ve got to get out of my head and do other stuff just to silence the words. And it’s not always fiction. I’m writing articles and running through ideas and composing in my head when I know I’ll never remember all the detailed phrasing I come up with. But it’s difficult to write while you’re driving. And I certainly don’t recommend that anyone try that.