It’s true. I have a terrible singing voice. So terrible, in fact, that I sometimes lip sync in church for fear of irritating my fellow churchgoers. And don’t ask me to sing a high note—it will come out in an odd-sounding squeak. While no amount of voice lessons will turn me into a candidate for American Idol, I have been thinking a lot about my writing voice. Some thoughts on that:
I picked up a book recently (and I will not divulge the name of it) and I had a funny reaction: The narrator’s voice seemed so inconsistent that it left me feeling jolted around. I don’t know how else to describe the effect, other than to say I’d get into a great passage or page, and then—bam—something would jar me out of the rhythm (flow, dialogue, an odd description—something) and I’d pull away from the book—like I’d just taken a punch to the stomach—and think “what was that?!”
This made me think a lot about the power an author has. When I’m reading a book, I like to believe that the author has my back, that they have expertly paced the dialogue, considered how new scenes change the rhythm, and ultimately make me feel like I’m in good hands for my reading experience. In a way, the reader-author relationship is an intimate one. As readers, we let authors grab the wheel and take us on a journey, and we trust her to give us an intelligent, interesting and engaging ride (and to follow traffic rules and not drive haphazardly).
Maybe I’m over-analyzing things here, but all I can say is that when I began reading The Book That Shall Remain Unnamed, I did not feel protected, I did not feel like the author had my back. I felt like I was on my own. And it was a reminder to me of how important a carefully planned voice is.
Or maybe it’s not so much voice, but a certain je ne sais quoi, of a novel that creates the magic? I don’t know, but I’m calling it a consistent voice for now and hoping my stories have it!
In other news, I started my fourth novel recently, and I’m kind of flipping out about the concept. More on that soon!
P.S. I love Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby. White Christmas anyone?