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. 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.
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.