When I write my characters, voice is something I’m not really thinking about at first. Anytime I start writing a novel or short story, voice is something that I’m not concerned about. I probably should be, but I’m not. I really didn’t know how undisciplined I was in this aspect (and probably manner others) until my friend asked me about it. As with many questions he asks me when inquiring about my writing process, I had to actually think about this aspect. I realized it wasn’t something that I put much thought into.
With that revelation I had to think about why. Why don’t I carve out a voice for this character or for this story as a whole? When thinking about it then and even now at this writing, I would have to say that I always thought that voice would come naturally. See, in case my dear readers, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a little haphazard in my writing process. There is no method I use to writing what I write. When something comes to me, whether it is character, setting, story, plot, etc. I simply write it. I don’t try to tame it, shape it, sand it, reshape it. It is what it is how it is. When I do my editing and revisions, it’s not geared toward voice. It’s more tightening up sentences, cutting extra words, grammar, looking at details of the world building, adding little character quirks and that sort.
I don’t know about other writers but for me if I write it the way it comes to me, it’ll come across the way it’s supposed to. While I do read advice from other published authors or industry folk, I don’t let it get in the way of how I write. I simply cannot allow that to happen. The minute I start trying to follow in the footsteps of someone else, I am trying to be like them. The problem is that I’m not them and they are not me. While some advice may be okay to follow by the book, most of it I take with a grain of salt and keep moving.
No one can tell me how to write what I’m writing. Unless they are spoon feeding me the words instead of my muse guiding me, no one can. The only person who can write what it is you want to write, is you. Why do you think it was given to you?
Voice for me comes with the words and how they are coming to me. I try to write in that exact way so that it comes through authentically. Poetry is the same way. If I feel a line break should be here and not there for the full force of what I’m conveying, then that’s where it’ll be whether someone else likes it or not. I wrote what I wrote the way I wrote it for a reason. I imagine this is the same for most if not all writers. We write the way we write for a reason. If it was supposed to be written another way, I would have done it that way.
Voice for my characters is again the same. If they use slang, they just use slang. Period. Sometimes they might use a lot of slang. Sometimes they use proper English and sometimes they use a mix of both. They may have an accent or may not. In the case of accents, I will let the reader know what kind, if any, accent this character has the first time they speak. If at anytime the voice doesn’t feel natural to the character then I didn’t write it correctly and I need to change it.
All in all, voice is not something I worry about. It’s not because I don’t care about voice. It just seems to me to be something that would and does (at least for me) come naturally with the words I’m writing.