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            When revising a novel, there seems to be a lot of question on what voice is, especially since it becomes a real concern when trying to make your novel stand out in queries and synopses.

            So what is voice? Well, it’s really the way your novel sounds and not sounds in the way of literal sound, but it has a lot to do with the same thing that helps us recognize the voices of people, the rhythm, certain patterns and tones, word choices, considerations that make the characters distinct. Usually the voice of a novel is close to the voice of the MC. But we’re talking about voice in general here.

            Let’s start with the easiest way to determine voice, which is by word choice. Let’s talk about word choice here. My English 1101 teacher put it like this to my class. Imagine the word stone and imagine the word rock. Picture both in your head.

            Now my class imagined the word rock as something rough with rugged sharp edges, while we all said a stone was something that’s smooth, might have a little shine to it, pretty to look it, colorful. The reason we imagined it like that has everything to do with how both words sound. Rock is a rough word. It abruptly ends with the ck sound. There’s no way to drag it out. But stone is a smoother sound, especially because of the long o vowel sound the way the consonant n can drag out if you want it to. It’s a smoother sounding word that rock which conjures up different pictures in the head of a person.

             It’s the same when dealing with voice in a novel. Certain words conjure up certain images and predeterminations that may or may not be true. It’s certainly not true in the real world, but the thing about fiction is that it has to make sense. Real life doesn’t.

            So certain word choices and phrase are associated with different voices. For instance, the use of contractions and slang is associated with a more casual laidback person. The use of cussing is regarded with the immaturity of being a teenager, anger, bitterness, or being downright serious and ready for people to stop crapping around. The use of proper grammar, not using contractions, and calling people by their full names even when they have a nickname they prefer is associated with someone from and upper class in some novels, or of someone with a stick stuck way up their behind.

            It just depends really and you’ll be amazed by how word choice and the order of phrases can make voice and that was the point I was trying to help get across to the person who asked a question about voice. It’s not just about telling a good story, but how the story comes across and voice has a lot to do with that. It can be the difference of a boring or compelling story.

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