What is voice?

“I’ve noticed that there is a…conversational feel [in your work], something that says each text was written by Kelsey Timmerman. Perhaps that is voice…What do you think voice means?” My buddy and fellow author/writer Chris Humphries asked this in an email the other day.

He explores voice further in a new post More than words on a page.

Here’s what I had to say to Chris about voice:

“When my editor sent my manuscript to the copyeditor, he sent instructions to “keep the voice.” There were several very specific instructions, but the one I remember the most was to keep the spelling of “fella.” Is that voice?

I’ve always adhered to the advice: “Write like you speak. If a word wouldn’t come of your mouth, don’t put it down on paper.” That being my goal, I take it as a compliment when someone hears me speak in person and tells me that I “sounded” just like I do on the page. That said, people also tell me I sound either like Joe Dirt of Matthew McConaughey. I don’t imagine either one of those fellas is a very good writer.

My favorite Esquire writer is Tom Chiarella. For a long time I never knew he was my favorite because I wasn’t reading the bylines. But eventually I discovered that all of my favorite pieces were written by him. I liked his voice.

When I think about voice vs. style vs. tone my head hurts. So that’s all I have to say. I try to think about writing as little as possible, especially when I’m doing it.”

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Let your voice be heard!