Newsletter: 13/7/6: Voice and Style, World Writer’s Day, and Competitions
It seems every author has his or her own definitions of style and voice.
- Brian Klems likens style to genre, almost to mechanics — it is the way one addresses one’s readers, and likens voice to personal way of expressing.
- Steve Thompson, on the other hand, considers style as personal way of expression and voice as mechanics.
- Michael LaRocca describes the difference of voice between narrative and dialogue. The thing is his voice is a mix of Klems’ style and voice.
- Gary Henry describes style as preferred mechanics, a description Daniel Reisel agrees with.
- Matthew Wright takes still another stance, insisting that style should be about content and not expression.
- Emma Darwin struggles with her definitions — but don’t these end up being the most honest explorations — and ultimately concludes that voice interacts with the reader as a dialogue, whereas style is a monologue.
- Randy Ingermanson considers style as how you write and voice as how you feel about your what you are writing — the attitude you express.
- Mayra Calvani considers style as how a writer writes (the choices she makes) and voice as how the writer views the world (his attitude), so hybridizing the definitions above.
- The University of Maryland adds tone to the mix, considering style as the effect a writer can create through attitude, language and the mechanics of writing, voice as who the readers hear talking in a writer’s work, and tone as the way in which the writer writes.
And the list goes on, with the definitions getting wishier and washier as the writer tries ever harder to strike a diagnostic or even accurately descriptive explanation of what style and voice are. The question is analogous to asking what life is — something we all recognize, but have difficulty defining.
I have a take on style and voice of my own, similar to Randy Ingermanson’s and Emma Darwin’s, based on Louise Rosenblatt’s description of the writing and reading dynamic and the difference between atmosphere and mood (which have their own debate on definitions). To me style is how you write, what choices you make, the way you communicate story to your reader. It is what you put into your work and what you give your reader. Voice on the other hand is what your reader experiences. It is a combination of your writing, including your style and the content of your story, and your reader’s background and imagination. It is the way your reader reads, what choice she makes, the actual voice in his head reading the story to her. It is the interaction of what you put into your work and what your reader puts into it. It is the dialogue — the story that grows from your narrative, or the imagery that grows from your poetry. Style is the way you as the writer choose to contribute to the story and imagery. Therefore, and here is the key, the story and poetry is not solely your creation. Writing is a conversation.
And that is this week’s writing prompt. What are style and voice to you? Take a piece you have written and find in it its style and voice. Define or describe these and their differences in your piece. As a bonus exercise, mix it around. Rewrite your piece (or part of it) embedding its voice as its style. What differences occur? Which version do you like best? Where can this technique improve or change your writing?
July 8 is World Writer’s Day, a day to celebrate writing in all its forms and genres. English Trackers offers a few exercises you can partake in to celebrate writing. Yet another celebration of reading and writing … and publishing … is Paperback Book Day on July 30.
Meanwhile, July is International Zine Month and National Anti-Boredom Month. We have several journalists, bloggers and non-fiction writers in our group who use magazines and newspapers to share their writing. In fact, magazines are a time-honoured means of publishing short stories and poems. This month celebrates magazines, journals and newspapers, those who write in them, and the writing within them. The National Anti-Boredom Month has as part of it reading and writing as creative ways to keep active. Check out the activities offered.
And, finally, several competitions have deadlines just around the corner (July 15).
- The Writer’s Digest Your Story Competition (#51). Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.” Current Deadline: July 15.
- The RATTLE Poetry Prize is offered annually for the best previously unpublished poem. Grand prize receives $5,000 and publication in RATTLE. Deadline: July 15.
- The Big Break Screenwriting Contest is an annual, international feature and television screenwriting contest designed to launch the careers of aspiring writers. Big Break rewards screenwriters with over $80,000 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Los Angeles, A–list executive meetings, and celebration at the exclusive Final Draft, Inc. Annual Awards. Early Deadline: July 15. Early Fee: $50. Standard Deadline: July 31. Standard Fee: $65.
- The House of Design Inaugural Website Giveaway Contest offers a chance to win a custom author’s website tailored to your taste, personality, work and style, plus tools and training to manage your website. Make that first impression professional and lasting. Just enter and answer two questions in three sentences each. Early Deadline: July 15. Early Fee $10. Standard Deadline: August 15. Standard Fee $15.
And that is it from me. I hope you all have a great Summer.