The “Right Voice”

As writers we all have our own “voice”. It’s what we use to draw in our readers and keep them hooked for the entirety of our work, whether it be 500 words or 500 pages. But I was thinking today: what makes a good voice? I feel there are some writers who have better voices than other writers and that may just be my general opinion on what types of writing I like or it may be a valid observation. Is there a type of voice that everyone in the whole world likes above everything else?

Now, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to answer that question. It’d take a pretty big survey and years of research to truly find the answer to it. It’s really just a musing to get my brain (and yours) working.

For instance, I’ve always been quite a fan of writing that’s a little more abstract. Not in a ‘hey I’m going to make this story vague as hell and make everyone guess what I’m talking about’ type of writing, but a writing that kind of rambles on. Not in a bad, annoying way, but in a way that still flows. If that makes sense. I guess I’m kind of thinking of a JD Salinger, Catcher in the Rye kind of writing. Hopefully you have an idea of what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to write in this kind of flowing rambling, but I feel like I’ve only really accomplished it once in my short story The Dream Where Jason Segel is my Boyfriend. The entire story is based off a dream I had so it has to have the rambling, jumpiness that a dream has. Sometimes I feel like people can accomplish that type of writing all the time and it comes out so beautiful. I get kind of jealous of those people. I wish I could be more abstract with my work and have this voice that sounds like an artist wrote it. But not in a pretentious way.

Now, I know there are people who like my writing, because if no one liked my writing I’m sure I wouldn’t have anything published (or in a ‘Best Of’ issue). However, sometimes I’m reading through a magazine or journal that I’m thinking of submitting something to and as I read through the stories I’m just sitting there like: Wow, this is really great stuff. How can I write like this?

But the only way to write like that would be to practice, which I haven’t been able to do in such a long time. Now I’m trying to work on another jumpy, dream like story so I’m trying to get just the right voice for it. Most of the time I like the voice in my writing and out of all the stories I have published, I really like about 80% of them. I’ve heard that writers aren’t really supposed to like what they write, that they need to rely on other’s for that ‘gratification’, but I think that’s kind of silly, really. Why would I write if I didn’t like anything I produced? Although I write to entertain others, I also write to entertain myself. I write because I love what I write and if I really didn’t love it I would probably stop writing altogether (which I did for a time).

I just wonder if there are other writers out there who read my work and think: Wow, this stuff is great. How can I be like this writer?

That’d be pretty awesome.

An Update on Writing Fiction

Over the past month I’ve been working diligently on my book “Out of the Night” and I’m very happy with how the second draft is coming along. Way better than the first draft by a long shot. I’ve found the majority of the holes and am slowly working it out so that everything makes sense and flows together. I was hoping that the 3rd draft would be just a grammar/spelling check draft, but as I near the ending of the 2nd draft, I have a feeling the 3rd draft will take care of looking for more holes and that the 4th draft will be grammar/spell check. I just feel like there’s something else missing from it, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.  I’m sure I’ll figure out what it is, though.

At the same time I’m torn. Part of me wants to keep going with this. I want to finish putting this all together by the end of the year so I can start sending it out, but at the same time I kind of feel like maybe I should take a short hiatus. And when I say short, I mean like a week off from working on it to focus on something else. I’m getting that feeling again that I want to get shorter pieces published in the mean time, but all I’ve been doing recently is focusing on “Out of the Night”. Which isn’t a bad thing. I ignored “Out of the Night” for the entire summer. Which is a reason why I don’t want to go on a hiatus. I’m afraid that if I do I’ll never come back to it, which would really stink because I really like how it’s coming along.

A new project I want to work on is a chapbook. I have two ideas for this:

1) Writing it in dream like sequences that might or might not make sense, but definitely interesting.

2) Writing one in the perspective of a dog

These ideas though haven’t gotten far in my head. I have no idea what they’d be about. Just the idea of how I would like to write them. So for now I think I will stick with my book, and hold these chapbook ideas off until later. There are still a few short story ideas I want to try to do, so maybe I will try to work on those and switch off every other day so I get a little breather. Or maybe that’s just my feelings today, and I really don’t want to break off. We shall see.

Day 30: The Mistake (revised)

Natalie pulled Smith down the hall toward the main staircase. “This way!” she shouted. As they neared the front door, Smith noticed a change around the room. “If you run to the left outside the gate you will see a river. The horses will not go through it, so you will be safe.”
“Uh, Natalie?”
“No time for thanks now. If you get away, that will be thanks enough. Who knows we may even see each other again. Some day.” Opening the front door, Natalie didn’t notice the Darkness inside, smirking. “Now go!” With a shove, she pushed Smith through the door. Not again! As the door slammed behind him, he turned and began banging on the nothingness that surrounded him. The Darkness did not yield, only laughed. “Get me out of here!” Wild images began flashing on all sides. Scenes of death and destruction: of guards with no faces lying dead on the field, of the king and queen collapsed bleeding on top of each other, of Natalie, the only one willing to help him–
Once again Smith was falling. He tumbled on a soft surface, burning his face as it rubbed across it.
“Who the hell is this!” a man’s voice shouted.
“I don’t know,” a woman replied.
“Then why was he in your closet?”
“I swear, I never met him before in my life!”
“Sure you  haven’t. I’m out of here.” There were heavy footsteps and a door slamming, then all was quiet. When Smith had the strength to get up, he saw a girl sitting on a bed, staring down at him. “Now I’ve had strange boys hiding in my closet before, but at least I kind of knew them.”

Day 29: A Stitch in Time (revised)

The Darkness surrounded Smith. It dug its claws into his flesh and seeped under his skin. He could hear it whispering his name, trying to get into his head. “Let me out of here!” Smith screamed as he clamped his hands over his ears. The Darkness tightened around him before it slowly ebbed away. Smith felt like he could breathe again. Jolted forward, Smith’s eyes flew open and he was blinded by a bright light as he tumbled into it. He heard a scream as he landed on a hard surface. There was shuffling and talking, but everything seemed muffled around him. As he began to lose consciousness, a sharp prodding brought him back. Slowly he opened his eyes. When his vision became clear, he saw a girl, covered in dirt, looking at him, a pointy stick in her hand.
“Are you all right?” she asked. Smith opened his mouth, but only a gurgling sound came out. The girl stood up and looked around, but no one was in sight. Sighing, she grabbed Smith by the arms and pulled him along the stone floor to a pile of hay that was pushed in the corner, then left the room. Smith began to fall out of consciousness again, but in a few minutes the girl was back with a pale of water, which she proceeded to throw on him. Smith jolted up.
“What’d you do that for?” he asked when he caught his breath.
“First, you tell me what you were doing in that closet,” the girl said.
“I wasn’t in a closet.”
“And where did you get such funny clothes? The master is not going to like this.”
“What?” Comparing her outfit to his, Smith could see what she was talking about. Her clothes looked foreign to when he was wearing. “Wait, where am I? What year is it?”
“You’re in the servants wing of Sir Harold’s castle, of course,” the girl explained. “It is the year 1326.” Smith looked around the room and realized he had been in this room before. Five hundred years in the future.

Day 28: The Trouble with Modern Times (revised)

The tree scraped roughly across Smith’s arm as he dove for cover. Copying off the movies he had been forced to watch, he crawled along the ground until he was safely hidden behind a large oak. His eyes closed, Smith tried to block out the sounds of destruction behind him and focused on his breathing.
“What are you doing!” he heard Leonie yell at him. His eyes shot open, and he turned to his left where Leonie was also taking cover behind a tree. “Get out there!”
There was a crash and a roar. “Are you crazy? There’s a dragon out there!” Leonie gave him a look that clearly said, ‘No duh.’ “You want me to fight the dragon?”
“Yes! It’s your damn fault that there’s a dragon here anyway.”
“My fault! I didn’t bring it here.”
“Yea, well your stupid door did.” Another roar erupted from the dragon. The ground shook as it searched the ground for its prey.”Didn’t you say you studied magic?”
“It’s called Alchemy, and yes, I did. But alchemy doesn’t work here. I already tried.”
“Maybe you weren’t trying hard enough.” Before Smith could reply, Leonie pushed him out from behind the tree into the open field. The once crowded park was now deserted. Even the dragon had disappeared. No, he’s still here, Smith could hear its wings beating overhead. Cautiously, he moved into the middle of the open field. Fires burned in clusters, but they didn’t spread. Kneeling in a patch of dirt, Smith thought back to all his lessons. He began to write. As he was finishing up a shadow descended upon him and he felt the heat of the dragon’s fire.

Day 27: The Lottery Ticket (revised)

The dumpster smelled like rotten eggs and sour milk, but there was no where else to hide. After running all night, Alex sat in the dumpster, trying to catch his breath. He always thought winning the lottery would be the best thing that ever happened to him, but instead it was a nightmare.

Pushing the dumpster lid up, Alex peeked outside. No one in sight. No matter how much he needed to sleep, he wasn’t about to stay in a dumpster. He could barely breathe. Slowly, he climbed out. “There he is!” he heard someone yell. Alex jumped out of the dumpster too fast and fell. Pain shot through his head as it slammed on the concrete, but he recovered quick and took off. He could hear the stomping of feet closing in on him. Knocking over trashcans and boxes, he tried anything to hinder his pursuers. A brick wall stood in front of him, as if it was built to stop him. Alex was trapped. The group of men gathered around him. “What do you want?” Alex asked.

“Your lottery ticket,” a man in the center answered.

“But why? I didn’t do anything wrong! It’s not like I cheated or anything. I won that money on pure luck.” Alex pleaded with the men. He needed the money. “If it’s money you want, I can give it to you. Just name your price!”

“You didn’t win anything.”

“But I did-” As soon as Alex pulled the winning ticket from his pocket, the men shot him. He crumpled to the concrete. The man in the middle held up his hand to the others. Walking over to Alex he picked up the ticket. While the rest were cleaning up, he pulled out a cell phone.

“Mr. Henderson? It’s Harris. We got the ticket.”

Day 26: Envy (revised)

She stared at the house next door, waiting. Finally, a woman came out. She looked at her, then down at herself, not liking what she saw. The woman’s clothes, her husband, her life, she wanted it all. And she slowly achieved it. A makeover, new clothes, buying items she knew she wasn’t able to afford. All because she had them. One event led to another, and as she stood over the woman’s lifeless body, she couldn’t help but smile. Now she would have it all. The door opened. “Honey, I’m home,” he called. “Coming,” she replied.