Monday, February 27, 2012

A rose by any other name...is The Voice

East Door: Killing of the First Born Sons 
Nope. Not talking about the show.  But the most memorable quality to any fiction. (Actually non-fiction, too, but we're focused on fiction here.)
I just finished reading my wonderful set of Rita entries for this year. And what can I tell you about the ones I have read and judged in the past 6 weeks?
Not the characters, save one, whose antics frankly irritated me by the end more than thrilled me.
Not the plots, save two, which were so very unique I smiled as I read and still do, weeks later.
West Door: Peter's Denial in the Garden
What sticks with me most are the authors' voices.
Voice, that indefinable "something" that editors go into raptures over. Voice, that sparkling-vibrant-uniquely can't-do-without quality that

makes a book memorable.

This lot I read this year had copious, delicious heaps and heaps of voice.
And yet what precisely defines Voice? Could I put my finger on it?
Voice. That essence of prose that lifts it above the ordinary.
That quality of rhetoric that distinguishes the work from others in its genre, period and peers.
That certain something that matches the mood of the work to the characters' conflicts and the plots twists and turns.

West Door: Judas's Kiss
That element that makes the reader smile or frown or gasp. And through it all, that quality that compels the reader to have more, more, more by god! before dinner must be prepped, or the dog walked, or the bedroom beckons with the demand that you must sleep now or you cannot make it up when that darned alarm goes off!
We can speak of it with eloquence when we talk about the works of visual artists. Leonardo. Van Gogh. Picasso. Antoni Gaudi. Mies van der Rohe.
Voice. Like Jane Austen's. Daphne du Maurier's. Elmore Leonard's. Jacqueline Winspear's.
Voice. It is what I strive for. It is why I look at every sentence. Why I go with a flow. How I edit myself.
What is your definition of voice?
Which voices do you like?  What are the works that represent that author best?
Do note the above photos: These are my pictures of La Sagrada Familia, the Sacred Family Basilica in Barcelona, Spain designed by Antoni Gaudi, which years after his death is still under construction. His more classical representations on the East Door of the Nativity are as much a part of his Voice as the one's on the West Door, commonly known as the Door of Death. Here you can see the stark, harsh modern representation of Judas Kissing Christ, and the lonely and despairing Peter who has just Denied Christ in the Garden. All, to me, are stunningly beautiful evocations of Gaudi's voice.


Tina Donahue said...

To me, voice is the author's ability to achieve deep POV. I'm in that character. I know what they're feeling/thinking/fearing/rejoicing over. I'm them. It's also creating a sense of place. Doesn't take paragraphs and paragraphs of description, just one well-worded phrase and I see the entire scene in my mind like a movie. It comes alive for me. Wow. That is so cool.

Great post, Cerise. Welcome to Divaland as one of our newest Divas. :)

Fiona McGier said...

Welcome to the gang! To me, voice is what allows me to communicate my thoughts to the reader...in essence, while reading my books, someone else temporarily is thinking my thoughts. To me that is the coolest thing about books! I can't ever really BE someone else, but by reading a book I can come very close!

And beautiful pictures.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Tina, Thank you for that definition. I am preparing a luncheon speech and will add it and quote you!

Fiona, Ditto for your golden words. Thank you!

And glad you like my pix.

Most of all, I am tickled to be among you!

jean hart stewart said...

Love your definitions of that indefinable 'voice'. I can get so involved in a book I forget everything else, and of course it's the author's voice that's grabbed me.

Liz said...

a great post. thanks for sharing it!
Liz--hoping to someday make you smile as RITA finalist.

Stormie Kent said...

Hi Cerise,
Great post.Each author brings a little bit of themselves to their work. It helps individualize writing and as a reader that voice helps me choose my "favorite" authors.