Finer points of voice

Part of the problem in talking about voice is that voice is interwoven with a writer’s personal style. Several points on the list need to be taken loosely, since what is effective can cover a broad range. ☐ Paragraph and sentence lengths are varied in accordance with pace. Monotonous sentence …

When is it OK to open your novel with “telling?”

Over on Facebook, I got some pushback to last week’s article “The difference between Storytelling and Dramatization.” One Facebook commenter noted that the “before” examples given in show vs. tell articles like mine are “often deliberately and obviously poor by any standards.” She’s talking about examples like the one I …

Use an engaging narrative voice

Whether the narrative is written from the POV of a character or a narrator, it must be engaging. Narrative is everything in the novel that’s not dialogue or interior monologue. So it’s a big chunk of the work, and it must grab the reader. That’s why I caution against Generic …

Voice in fiction is different

A fiction writer has a personality, a style, that carries across books. But the voice in a particular piece of writing may differ from others by the same author depending on the point of view. Which is why I have two different items on my checklist. The appropriate one for …

What voice is and why an author needs one

In the writing business, we often speak of a writer’s voice. This is a complex topic, but it’s simpler for nonfiction writers. Your voice is your personality on paper. Writers are often told “write as you speak,” but that is an oversimplification. What we mean when we say that is …

Vivid word choices enhance detail

A portrait painter works in large tonal blocks first, light and dark, before adding detail. As writers, we can do the same, focusing on the big-picture elements as we write and do our developmental edit. But now we are down to line editing, adding the details that will make the …

Engage all the senses in your novel

I used to have a critique partner who was really good about examining each scene for the sensory details that were missing. For example, when a couple of characters walked into a kitchen where a woman was cooking, and I hadn’t thought to describe the smells. ☐ All senses are …

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