Tuesday Quick Tip: Voice

Voice begins with FEELING, with creating a sense of emotional immediacy on the page, with the warmth and dimension of real human response. So, one quick tip for honing in on a novel's narrative voice is to play with, and exaggerate, the viewpoint character's predominant emotion in a scene.

Try it. Using any scene in your novel, identify your viewpoint/narrating character's central emotion within the scene. Is he/she angry? Frustrated? Afraid? Giddy? Lustful? Full of hope?

Once you've identified ONE central emotion, fix it in your mind, add it to the top of the page in 48-point type, let it take shape and grow inside you. Hone in on the strongest feeling and rewrite the first couple of pages of the scene without referring to what's already on the page. Make sure that emotion DRIPS from every word; make it inform every one of the character's observations, lines of dialogue, actions, and--of course--word choice.

Remember the key here is to EXAGGERATE. Go way outside of your comfort zone, outside of what feels like good writing. Go too far.

You can--and you will--edit what you've written, pull back, find the happy balance between strong, emotion-filled and "voicey" writing and, er, crap. But by pushing yourself toward the heavily emotional, you'll add energy to the page that may have been lacking, you'll HEAR more of your character in your mind's ear. You may make amazing discoveries, and you'll certainly breathe a bit more life into your character and your narrative.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Good luck!