Friday, August 13, 2010

Raise Your Voice

It’s Wildcard Friday here on The Prairies. Woo-hoo! Come on it’s okay, I know you’re missing Janet, but cheer anyway, if for no other reason than its Friday. Long live Fridays!

Voice is one of those nebulous things we here about from agents connected to words like fresh, original, and unique. It’s your author’s fingerprint; it’s how you sound on the page. Nathan Bransford explains it much better than I ever could here.

Also, if you’ve been surfacing blogs this last month chances are you’ve could across this site, I Write Like. It’s been referenced everywhere, if you haven’t seen it you’ve been living under a rock, or been on an extended vacation, or in space. You simply copy and paste a section of your writing into the space provided and it tells you which author you write like. I tested out my snippet from below and apparently I write like Stephenie Meyer. Interesting...

Here's my snippet:
Kate Logan tried to come across cold as ice. Too bad she smelled like sin. He chuckled as he turned the corner of the old stone building. He could have told her any guy worth his salt didn’t judge a car by its paint job, he checked under the hood, figured out what made it purr. Or scratch. For all the good it would have done him. She’d made her feelings plain and he respected them, rule number one. Besides as things stood now, the last thing he needed was another high maintenance female. He already had two too many.

Seth's character is a little rough around the edges yet. And as I'm just getting back into what makes him tick this little window into him will likely change but I think the writing sounds like me, even with too many sentences starting with the word he or she.

We’ve got cyber snacks and a pitcher of cyber lemonade. Grab a plate and a glass, it’s time to share and play. The following are short excerpts from some very different writing styles by authors you may or may not have heard of, but chances are you have. Try and guess as you go along.

His remarkable hair simply hung loose, brushed into a shining river of ivory. It spilled over his shoulders and down his back, accenting a face that had emerged from adolescence with all its grave, shy beauty intact, from which Alcuin viewed the world out of dark and solemn eyes. Delaunay was a genius. Somehow the rustic garb—or elegant replication of it—served to point up all the more Alcuin’s otherworldly charm.


He opened the passenger door, holding it for me as I stepped in, shutting it softly behind me. I watched him walk around the front of the car, amazed, yet again, by how graceful he was. I probably should have been used to that by now—by I wasn’t. I had a feeling Edward wasn’t the kind of person anyone got used to.


“I might as well inquire”, replied she, “why with so evident a design of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have.”


No, damn it, it wasn’t. However much she would have enjoyed jabbing her elbow in Mia’s face on principle, she couldn’t delude herself. Mia never went sniffing after someone else’s man. The fact was she didn’t sniff after men at all, which was probably why she was such a moody, irritating woman. A little recreational sex would improve her attitude.


He should have been more sympathetic. He should have tried to comfort her. And he would have done both of those things, if they had been in any other room besides his bedchamber. But as it was, it was all he could do just to control his breathing. And himself.


1. Kushiel’s Dart by Jaqueline Carey
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts
5. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

Now, it’s your turn. Leave a short snippet of your work in the comment section and give us a treat and a hint as to your voice and style. Don’t be shy; we want to see your work. Or test out the I Write This site and let us know who you sound like. Or list a favourite author and why you’re drawn to their voice.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Karyn, thank you! I've been wanting to analyze my writing because I have seen this everywhere, but I'm trying to get my wip done and so didn't bother.

Until now.

I submitted the opening paragraphs of Chap 11 of Emma's Outlaw which is about 70 pgs into the wip and ...

I write like...

Stephen King!

I can't tell you how many others I've seen who also write like him, though. It makes me wonder just how many authors are really in their data banks - two? LOL

It sure would be nice to hear other responses.

Great post, Karyn. Have a great Friday the 13th.

Anita Mae.

Karyn Good said...

Hey, Anita. You'll make your goal of finishing your wip! Keep at it, you do it.

Stephen King. Very interesting. Another popular one is Ian Flemming. Also, Margaret Atwood. It's lots of fun to try out.

BTW, I didn't even realize it was Friday the 13th. Possibly because I'm running around in circles trying to get everything done. Good luck to you :D

Silver James said...

Huh. Dan Brown, J.K. Rowling, and Vladimir Nobokov. Uhm...yeah. Right. Three different passages all from the same work. Interesting.

Nice topic today, Karyn. Voice is something so illusive to writers sometimes. I think I've discovered mine, or at least my readers tell me I have.I do know that I have a certain style that crosses the boundaries of my various genres. That's good. I think.

As for figuring out the voices in your examples, I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't really read any of of those authors and probably would have missed had you not supplied the answers. Well, all but Jane Austen. :D

Okay, here's my snippet. Warning for some slightly off-color language.

Sade stared at Sinjen, unaware she was staring. Damn but why does he have to be so gorgeous? This was becoming a rhetorical question. Dammitdammitdammit. What’s wrong with me that the only man who makes me feel alive is dead? Before adding more thoughts, she took a few short strides and melted into Sinjen’s arms. With her face buried against his neck, her cheek brushing the slightly raspy skin of his cheek, Sade missed the brief flash of triumph that gleamed deep in his eyes. Her nostrils flared and she took a deep breath, filling her nose and lungs with the vampire’s scent. There was no hint of decay or the faint sweetly rotten smell of reptiles some people associated with vampires. Sade took another deep breath and tried to identify the scent—leather, a whiff of ambergris and...something else she couldn’t quite pin down. An illusive memory teased her, dancing just out of reach like a moth waltzing with a flame. Sleet spattered against the bedroom window and the memory suddenly slipped into frame.

Happy Friday the 13th! (And yes Janet, we miss you!) Ha! My verification word is fitting: cries I am because Janet is scarce. ;D

Karyn Good said...

Hey, Silver. A Brown, Rowling, Nobokov (I confess I'm stumped as to the last writer's identity) mix. Must mean it's a terrific story :)

I think I've discovered my voice, too. One day I'll test it out on a different subgenre. Because I love paranormal stories, which leads me to your snippet. Love it. Excellent chemistry. Sade and Sinjen are compelling characters.

Thanks for sharing!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Silver, I agree with Karyn... a terrific story with a bit of this and a dab of that and you're a unique combination!

So I tried again because I figured if Silver could do it, me too. LOL

My 2nd snippet was the bottom half of the first page and also came up as writing like Stephen King. hmmm.

Both those snippets are from my completely revised-ready-to-be-submitted version.

So, I submitted 2 snippets from near the end of the wip where I still have to revise and they both came up as ... James Joyce.

Weird, huh.

Anita Mae.

Janet said...

Hey, Karyn! Great post - you already know how much I angst over voice, so I won't go there again today :)

I've seen the analyzing thing all over the web - and according to it, I write like Dan Brown! Well, if I could make half the money he did on The DaVinci Code, I'd be very happy!!

Interesting snippets - I got most of them because of the character names!

And you know I love your voice - I think it would work very well for a kick-ass paranormal :)

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Janet. Well, you're a wonderful mystery writer and you're great with puzzles so it definitely fits! Perhaps there's a medieval female herbalist who solves mysteries with the help of a humorous sidekick (or a very reluctant handsome one) in your future writings?

I'd love to write a kick-ass paranormal. One day...

BTW, I sent you The End :D

Karyn Good said...

James Joyce? I'd claim it. Happy revising, Anita! Get back to work.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karyn,
I read your blog yesterday at work, but couldn't respond until I had a chance to check out my writing on the I write Like site. I must have been under a rock lately because I haven't heard of it. My excuse is that I've been busy writing.

So I tried a couple of my manuscripts. First I tried the opening of my World War 2 suspense "Flawless" and was told I write like Chuck Palahniuk, to which I thought "Huh?" since I didn't recognize the name. Turns out he's the guy who wrote "Fight Club", the one turned into a Brad Pitt movie. Then I tried my current WIP which is attempting to be a romantic comedy and was told I write like Dan Brown. Apparently, many of us are Dan Brown clones. If the site had said I'd be making money like Dan Brown, I'd be jumping up and down.

BTW, Vladimir Nobokov is the guy who wrote "Lolita" about a very young girl who seduces an older man.


Karyn Good said...

I'm glad you had a chance to try it out, Jana. It's fun to play with and I'm glad to hear you're getting some writing in and working on your goal. And may a Dan Brown type paycheck be in your future!

Okay, I've heard of Lolita! Thanks for the info.