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Book Club Contest #6


145 replies to this topic

#1
ShadowDog

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It's very rare I talk about one contest before the previous one is over. In fact, I usually like to let a little time go by before starting the next one. But this contest will actually start out as a topic of conversation before moving into the contest phase. So I thought no time like the present to begin talking about it.

How many authors do you think have their own distinctive "voice"? If you read a couple paragraphs you've never read before but that is written by an author you know well, do you think you could pick out who he or she is just from the way the person crafts the sentences? Do you think it's important for an author to have a distinct voice? His or her own personal style?

Stephen King's voice is so strong that he was busted after publishing just five books under the name "Richard Bachman." Indeed, some readers became suspicious after just the first couple novels and it was these suspicions that led him to being outed. For a lot of people, the distinctiveness of his voice is what brings them back to each of his new novels. If you like his style of writing, you'll enjoy his work even if the subject matter of a particular book is just meh.

Another case in point. I've just recently gotten into reading LKH and she has a very distinctive voice. I think I'd recognize it blind now even after reading just two of her novels. I really enjoy her voice, which is a very unique and amusing take on the world, and would read a novel from her whatever the subject matter because of her appealing way of writing.

On the other hand, I probably wouldn't recognize Dean R. Koontz (who has written under a dozen pen names and never once gotten busted) even after reading at least 40 of his novels. Unless he went into one of his right wing rants, that is. :lol: But otherwise, no.

And finally, how distinctive is your voice? It doesn't matter if you're a fiction writer, each and every person who posts on Nightly has their own writing style and voice. This was proven during a couple game posts I did in the Cantina a while back when most people who participated were able to pick out who said what when presented with blind quotes from a two week old thread. Whether you know it or not, each and every one of you has your own voice. Some of them greatly resemble other people, some of them are very singular and easily guessable.

Which brings us to the contest we'll be running after this current one is complete.

What: Recognizing Writers' Voices

How: Anyone who wants to participate can PM me a short sample (100 words or so) of their writing that has never been posted on Nightly. It can either be a short sample of your fiction writing (if you're a writer) or a sample of your "speaking writing" (in other words, give me a hundred words on how your day is going or whatever you might normally talk about on Nightly). A short time after there has been a winner in the current contest, I'll blindly post all of these writing samples as a numbered list. Everyone will then privately guess who said what.

Limits: Your writing samples must be between 100-300 words and contain no personal references that make it easy to guess who you are. (If everyone knows you have a dog named Bingo, don't mention Bingo.)

Winning: There will be two $15 cafeexpress prizes for this contest:

1) The person with the most recognizable writing voice (in other words, the person who was correctly guessed the most often by everyone else) will win a prize.

2) The person who correctly recognized the most writer voices will win the other prize.

PS: It will make it harder for people to guess who is who if you don't announce you're going to enter. But that's up to you, I won't enforce this suggestion.

Anyway, I think it's fun to try new things every now and again so this is an experimental contest. If we don't get enough participation we can go back to the normal contests we're used to. :pimp:

Getting back to the topic of conversation, how many writers do you think have a distinctive voice and how distinctive of a voice do you think you have?

Edited by ShadowDog, 02 May 2007 - 10:40 AM.


#2
LadyGuinevere

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What happened to number 5? :shrug:

#3
ShadowDog

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There have been four writing contests and one reading contest, so this would be number six overall. :P

#4
Copper

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SD I would recognize your writing anywhere. There's just a certain something about it, perhaps it's the wording, perhaps it's word choice... but it's very recognizable, IMO.

#5
CitizenGirl

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Super idea for a contest and topic of discussion, SD! :thumbsup:

Beyond the odd few poems I have submitted here I have a clean writing slate...so, I look forward adding my effort.

My most read and beloved authors I would recognise their voice print in a hearbeat.

#6
Richcelt

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I'm not that savvy a reader (ask Copper ;) ), so I don't think I could pick out an unknown author.

However, I am open to submitting something for others to try with.

Question: Is there a prize for the one who stumps the most readers?

#7
Dave Dark

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oh god. I've been told my writing is recognizable from a mile away and I guess most people would think that's a good thing, but it just rubs me the wrong way. makes me feel like I've pigeon-holed myself and only write in this one particular way that anyone can recognize.

I'm terrible at recognizing other writers, though. unless it was really obvious (like Vonnegut. although I bet if someone tried hard enough to stump me I probably wouldn't even be able to figure that out), I can't tell. I'd like to think it's because I don't care to tell (it's just not what I choose to focus on), but it's probably because I'm oblivious and a little bit dumb.

#8
Thomas Alan

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Question: Is there a prize for the one who stumps the most readers?


That sounds pretty easy to do.

#9
Nixie

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yay! a contest i can win! :)

id know copper, shadowdog richcelt kung fu jawa, eyeofthewolf, basil undome, and irishdancer2 for sure. :D and dave dark thinks id know him. :lol: im going to win this! :)

there are a lot of authors id know on site. nora roberts, ann m. martin, stepen king, stephen r. donaldson and more. some people just write a certain way.

#10
Iceheart

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I REALLY WANT TO BE IN! But I can't play until Friday :P So I'll play if the contest goes up on Friday, I guess :shrug: I'm so going to loose either way, but it'll be fun!

#11
Kung Fu Jawa

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Can we do impersonations?

#12
Copper

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:lol:

#13
Doomtrain

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I think I'm at a disadvantage both ways, but I'll give it a shot. If nothing else, it'll be fun to see if anyone recognizes me.

#14
ShadowDog

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SD I would recognize your writing anywhere. There's just a certain something about it, perhaps it's the wording, perhaps it's word choice... but it's very recognizable, IMO.


:blush: Thanks. I'd like to think that after so many years of writing I've established an individual voice for myself. :P

Question: Is there a prize for the one who stumps the most readers?


Naw, the goal here is be ourselves and see if people can recognize our voices. It would be very easy to distort our voices so no one would know who it is. If I had to predict, I'll bet that no one gets even 80% right. I think this is going to be a lot harder than we think it is.

im going to win this! :)


I love it when people brag. :devil:

I REALLY WANT TO BE IN! But I can't play until Friday


I doubt we'll start before then. The current contest wraps up tomorrow night at midnight, then we'll vote for at least three days, then we'll want a day or two to catch our breath.

Any more thoughts of which authors you read have recognizable voices? Or which ones have bland unrecognizable voices?

#15
Kung Fu Jawa

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Tom Robbins has a very recognizable style to me. I could PM you some samples, but that would give me an unfair advantage.

#16
eye_of_the_wolf

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:lol: Anyone can reconise mine ... you just have to look at my spelling and grammer ... But this is actualy a contest where I don't have to spend to much time writing something :D I already have something written, well basicly it need's tidying up a little I think ...

Edited by eye_of_the_wolf, 23 April 2007 - 08:15 AM.


#17
Mara Jade Skywalker

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I can always recognize Timothy Zahn's writing, because he uses the word "Point" about a billion times in each book. (Okay, not really a billion, and I've only counted one time in the current book of his that I'm reading now, but that word always pulls me out of his stories because he used it in Star Wars so often. :P )

#18
Good God a Bear

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Good point, Mara.

#19
Mara Jade Skywalker

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No, you mean, "Point."

#20
ShadowDog

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:lol: Who needs a comedy club with you lot around? :P

I've read his writing, but I've never noticed that about him Mara. I have noticed JKR gets on a roll with using certain phrases or words way too much within a short stretch of text, and then it goes away. One example is she had her students "swinging their bags onto their shoulders" like every third page for several chapters in a row and then they never did it again. Very weird.

#21
Mara Jade Skywalker

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To be fair, he doesn't do it that often. But once I noticed it the first time it started jumping off the page at me. Mainly because I never hear anyone just say "point." It's either "good point," or "you have a point."

He's going to be at Dragon*Con, so I might ask him why he likes that word so much. It's like CS Lewis and "presently" in the Narnia books.

#22
Iceheart

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I can always recognize Timothy Zahn's writing, because he uses the word "Point" about a billion times in each book. (Okay, not really a billion, and I've only counted one time in the current book of his that I'm reading now, but that word always pulls me out of his stories because he used it in Star Wars so often. :P )


:lol: What was the word that Tenel Ka always said, something like "fact" or "truth" or something like that... drove me so nuts...

#23
LadyGuinevere

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Interesting topic actually.

I'm pretty sure I have a fairly distinct voice. I know I can see patterns in my work, and sentence structure etc.

What I do find fascinating, is at the weekend, I read a history essay of my sister's to beta-read it. I was amazed at how similar her 'voice' is to mine. She's more waffly than I am (and considering I'm inclined to waffle myself, that's really saying something!), but her syntax is really similar. It was like looking at my work five years ago (or probably a bit more, although there is five years between us).

Neither of us have ever read anything by the other before. Ever. She did also mention that she had read some stuff by our middle sister who also writes in a similar way. I've never read anything of hers either, so I'm not sure.

So... nature or nurture? We've all had different English teachers, and though we tend to read similar genres, we tend to read different books within.

#24
ShadowDog

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That's very interesting about your sisters having a voice similiar to yours. I never thought about it because I seriously doubt that either of my brothers can read and my half sister is 11 years older than I so we don't relate much.

But since you and I have known each other going on 9 years I feel confident that I could pick you out of a crowd of written works. :pimp: I'm not nearly as confident about anyone else.

#25
ShadowDog

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So let's see, how about setting the deadline for getting your secret entries PMed to me as Monday the 30th at 11:59pm EST? If we get enough entries, the contest will begin the next day.



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