Literary Voice: Developing it…and defining it.

A story’s “voice” is sometimes hard to define or talk about. You’ll hear people in the industry praising a certain writer’s voice, or asking for a certain kind of voice in their submissions—quirky, lyrical, etc. I’ve had people ask me how to practice developing one’s own voice, or improve it.

But what exactly is voice?

Wikipedia (that college professor’s bane…) provides the following:

The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). Voice can be thought of in terms of the uniqueness of a vocal voice machine. As a trumpet has a different voice than a tuba or a violin has a different voice than a cello, so the words of one author have a different sound than the words of another. One author may have a voice that is light and fast paced while another may have a dark voice.

READ MORE via Literary Voice: Developing it…and defining it..

Man Booker prize goes to one liner | The Australian

AN author who pens stories the length of a sentence has scooped this year’s Man Booker International Prize.

American writer Lydia Davis has written some short stories of conventional length, but most range from one to three pages, while others are just a paragraph or sentence long.

Davis was picked from a short list of 10 names to win the fifth Man Booker International Prize, which is presented once every two years for “achievement in fiction on the world stage”.

The STG60,000 ($A93,000) prize is awarded to a living author for a body of work published originally in English or available in translation in English.

Davis’ stories are among the shortest ever written and she has been described as “the master of a literary form largely of her own invention”.

One of her shortest stories, A Double Negative, read simply: “At a certain point in her life, she realises it is not so much that she wants to have a child as that she does not want not to have a child, or not to have had a child.”

via Man Booker prize goes to one liner | The Australian.

Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown – Telegraph

This is just brilliant…

‘Renowned author Dan Brown smiled, the ends of his mouth curving upwards in a physical expression of pleasure. He felt much better.
If your books brought innocent delight to millions of readers, what did it matter whether you knew the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verb?
“Thanks, John,” he thanked.
Then he put down the telephone and perambulated on foot to the desk behind which he habitually sat on a chair to write his famous books on an Apple iMac MD093B/A computer.
New book Inferno, the latest in his celebrated series about fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, was inspired by top Italian poet Dante. It wouldn’t be the last in the lucrative sequence, either. He had all the sequels mapped out. The Mozart Acrostic. The Michelangelo Wordsearch. The Newton Sudoku.’

Read more via Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown – Telegraph.

The Miles Franklin shortlist…

“The Trust Company unveils all female shortlist for the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary AwardMiles of Reading Challenge to award prizes for best tweet-reviews of shortlisted novelsThe Trust Company, as Trustee, and the 2013 judging panel have today announced an all-female shortlist for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award.Regarded as Australia’s oldest and most prestigious literary prize, the 2013 Miles Franklin Award shortlist, announced today at the State Library of New South Wales, features five of Australia’s most talented female authors – including three first time novelists.The Miles Franklin Literary Award was established with proceeds from the estate of My Brilliant Career author, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, to support and encourage authors of Australian literature.The winner will be announced on Wednesday 19 June 2013 in Canberra at the National Library of Australia, and will receive $60,000 for the novel judged to be of the highest literary merit which “must present Australian life in any of its phases” in line with Miles Franklin’s wishes.Each of the five shortlisted authors will also receive $5,000 in prize money from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, a long term partner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.The 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist is:
Romy Ash – Floundering
Annah Faulkner – The Beloved
Michelle de Kretser – Questions of Travel
Drusilla Modjeska – The Mountain
Carrie Tiffany – Mateship with Birds”

via News.

Punctuation in Dialogue

Punctuation within and around dialogue:

Dialogue has its own rules in regard to punctuation.
There are many different levels of dialogue, from simple and complex sentences, dialogue with attributions (letting the reader know who is saying what), interrupted dialogue or dialogue that trails off, to dialogue with attributions, actions, and narrative mixed in.

1. Simple dialogue:
A complete sentence of dialogue.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

This is a single clause, with the speech and punctuation contained within the quotation marks.
This works as long as the reader knows who is saying it.

1a. Multiple and/or complex sentences within the one section of dialogue.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you, but things just got in the way. It’s life, y’know?”

This is a complex sentence made up of more than one clause. The example also follows on with another simple sentence, all within the quotation marks.
Again, it works if the reader knows who is talking.

2. Attributed dialogue:
Dialogue that is attributed to a character.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Gina said.

Again, a single clause, this time with a tag to let you know who is saying it. The tag can be a pronoun if it is already apparent who that pronoun is relating to.
The comma or other punctuation sits INSIDE the closing quotation marks.
The attribution isn’t capitalised (unless it’s a proper noun or ‘I’), as it is still part of the same sentence.
This rule still applies to questions or exclamations.

“Did you mean to hurt me?” he asked.
“No!” she said.

If the attribution comes before the dialogue, then the punctuation sits OUTSIDE the quotation marks EXCEPT AT THE END.

Gina said, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
He said, “Are you sure about that?”

You’ll notice the comma still separates the attribution and dialogue.

3. Interruptions or trailing off.
Cut off sentences.
Em-dash for interrupted sentences. NOT an en-dash or hyphen. An EM-DASH.
Ellipsis (three periods) for trailing off.

“It seems you meant to do—” he said.
“I didn’t, but…” she cut in.

4. Complex dialogue.
Dialogue with attributions, actions, and narrative thrown in all at once can be intimidating, but if you look at it logically, taking into account the rules above, it all makes sense.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said, stepping closer to him.
“Gina, it’s not what you meant that matters,” he said. “It’s the fact that you DID hurt—”
“NO!” Gina said. “I had no choice.” She reached for his cheek. “I love you,” she said, “and that’s what matters.”

If you look carefully at the conversation, you can see a mixture of all the rules, and you can see where full sentences are finished with correct punctuation, both within the dialogue, and in the narrative that is mixed in with it.
Remember, a new paragraph when the speaker changes.

There is more to it than this, but here are the basics.
More on complex dialogue another time.

My Latest Published Short!

Hi everyone.

It’s my pleasure today to announce that the anthology For the Night is Dark, featuring my short story ‘His Own Personal Golgotha’, has been released in both print and Kindle format via Amazon.

Amazon Print
Amazon Kindle

Other ebook formats coming soon.
It’s one of my favourite stories so far, and the collection seems pretty good, from what I have so far.
Edited by Ross Warren.


Anne R. Allen’s Blog: Beware the Seven Deadly Writing Scams

Courtesy of Anne R. Allen’s blog:

“Seven Deadly Scams by Lila Moore

These days, writers face a range of scams from mildly annoying to lethal. Deadly scams are ones which can destroy your bank account, your credibility, or your ability to profit from your work. Not all of these scams are perpetrated solely by malicious outsiders: some of these scams only work because the authors themselves are complicit and some of these scams are perpetrated by the authors themselves.Here are the Seven Deadly Scams– and how to avoid them.”

Read more via Anne R. Allens Blog: Beware the Seven Deadly Writing Scams.