Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Continuing with the Author ABCs...

So, voice. Really, it is my most favorite thing as a reader AND writer. And it's sort of difficult to describe -- it's kind of like the "it" factor Simon Cowell talks about on American Idol. When a book's got it, you know it. But it's sort of hard to say what IT is or how it came to be there in the first place.

All I know is that it's essential. And in my experience, you recognize it instantly. Like with the first draft of LEAVING GEE'S BEND, when I decided to change the main character in my Gee's Bend story to a girl. Then, quickly, decided to change pov from third person to first. All of sudden I had an authentic voice coming not from my head, but from the heart of my character. The difference was so profound and moving I can't adequately describe it here.

Okay, well, I guess it's like falling in love. You don't just fall in love with any old words on the page. It's got to be special. Voice is what makes a book special.

If you're having trouble with voice, keep at it. Yes, there are a lot of frogs out there. But there's also a prince....


  1. Voice is so elusive--but obvious when it's there (or not). In your poems, Irene, the voices are so crystalline, it's like hearing dispatches from worlds away. I am so eager to hear the voice of your LGB character.



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