Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Unique Sound of an Author's Voice

Just as voices can be similar but not exact, so too the sound of an author's unique voice. I've been privileged to be a beta and crit partner to several authors, and have learned much about styles.

If you have paragraphs written by three different authors, fans of their work could match them up. For instance, one of my crit partners writes in an entirely different style from me: yaoi, and yet we work well as crit partners because we understand that we write differently, and that's okay.

Another crit partner writes linearly, start to finish, something I could never do. Their writing is so clean you could publish their rough drafts. I might give comments like, "Make me feel it" prompting more emotion in the scene, but I try not to insert my own style into theirs. The last thing I want to do is say something that translates to, "This is how I would write it."

It's their story. They have their own followers who expect certain things, and it certaintly isn't a book that sounds more like someone else wrote it than the author. 

The most valuable lesson I've learned in critiqueing others' work is:

It's their story, not mine. I can make suggestions, give them reader reaction, I can give an example of how to reorganize a tricky paragraph to eliminate overused words, but the moment I try to tell them how to write, I've crossed a line. 

I've changed their voice. All my crit partners have amazing voices that don't need changing. I do my best not to.

Betaing and critiquing is a privilege and honor. Also, I get to read totally awesome books before anyone else gets to.


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