Every author has a voice. Sometimes it takes us awhile to find the right genre that truly sets us going, but we all have a specific ‘voice’.
It is a damned shame when one of us loses their voice.
I have an author -not going to mention who- whom I adore. She has a series of which I have been an avid follower since I first found them 1.5 years ago and each one was better than the one before it. Until now. In her latest book of the series her voice was completely lost. It felt as though the characters and the dialogue were wooden, plastic, exactly what her publisher wanted, no doubt.
Now, I think having a publisher is great. BUT there are too many publishers out there who are locking down their authors into the same exact voice. I mean, some of them I literally could not tell who wrote what if their names were removed from the cover. Are they just names on a screen now? It sometimes feels as though they have a computer program that asks basic questions:
Character name 1:
Character name 2:
And once those are entered, a damned computer spits out the book.
They have a system that they now write to. A happens which is immediately followed by B which is immediately followed by C which is immediately followed by D. Do not deviate from this platform.
Because of that, the characters have no soul. They are one-dimensional beings I have no desire to read and if those characters died I would not care a bit.
Which is sad in the extreme. I am not reading a book because it will be like any other book. I want a voice, I want a tale that catches my interest, characters that grab me and won’t let go. In this newest book by said author, she brought in one of the former characters – one of the first and one of my favorites – and I did not recognize him until several paragraphs in. And he is someone who is easily recognizable.
When did she lose her voice?
I hope she gets it back because I love her books. She is a talented author and it would be a shame if she stuck to what ‘works’ rather than writing what she is good at.
Authors, watch your voice. Don’t let it be destroyed. Readers, pay attention to what you read. It is better for you, better for the author who will keep impassioned about their craft, and will be better for the publishing industry as more passion will bring forth better work which will increase the desire for readers.
This truly encompasses what I feel when someone gives in to less than they can do just to fill the status quo: It is from the movie The American President.
“…People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”
“Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”
Can be paraphrased as: People don’t read plastic books just because they are needing something to read right now, they read it because they don’t know the difference. And that is just damned sad.
I don’t think there is any one fault here.
- Readers not demanding better writing?
- Publishers not looking beyond the bottom line to truly find good work?
- Writers who want to get published and make money so they do what is required?
If it is the fault of all of us, it is up to all of us to fix it.