It’s become something of an adage that every literary agent (or publisher, or editor, or reader…) is looking for is a fresh and distinctive Voice. But what, exactly, is Voice?
Depending on where you look, you’ll find any number of people offering definitions, ranging from Rachelle Gardner:
Your writer’s voice is the expression of YOU on the page.
To Leah McLellan:
Your personality comes out in your writing. Your voice is a combination of your attitude, your tone, and your personal style.
Or Darcy Pattison:
Voice is something subconscious that appears as a result of style; that is, a consideration of vocabulary, sentences, punctuation, rhythms, and formality.
None of those definitions are wrong, but nor do they really nail the description. Perhaps, like pornography, a distinctive Voice is hard to define, you just know it when you see (hear?) it.
I’m not the first person on Writer Unboxed to talk about Voice, and I will definitely not be the last. There are fantastic essays here on the site by Meg Rosoff, Mike Swift, and Donald Maass, amongst others. And I’m not going to attempt to define the indefinable. Instead, I want to talk about one specific aspect of Voice: