VOICE AND STYLE by Susan Tuttle

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure to be here and I hope your readers will enjoy my thoughts, and feel free to comment and ask questions.

As writers we dream of developing a unique Voice, a Style that is easily identifiable by readers everywhere. One that is unmistakably our own, inimitable in its essence. Think of Shakespeare, Dickens, Agatha Christie, Rosamund Pilcher, Stephen King... A reader could open any of those writers’ books and, not even looking at the author’s name, know who wrote it simply by the way the story unfolds. By the words and phrases, the sentence structure, the characterizations, the themes and insights.

But Voice and Style are difficult to define, because they are not just the skills that create them. If they were we could simply take a class to learn them. But Voice and Style are greater than the sum of the elements that go into them. There is an amorphous quality, an indefinable element, that comes only through experience, self-knowledge, and work. Through trusting our own nature and instincts. Only one part of Voice and Style can be learned. The most important part comes from within us, from our very essence.

Voice and Style are made up of a lot of concrete elements that work together to create a separate entity. They’re composed of the words we choose, the way those words are put together and the way sentences are structured, the way paragraphs grow, and how scenes develop and connect. Our education and life experiences also go into the make-up of or own Voice and Style.

And there’s more. The books we read and the authors we try to emulate play an important role. So does rhythm and pacing, a sense of detail, empathy and sympathy for the human condition, a sense of the absurd, a sense of humor, and a sense of both the profound and the profane. The anecdotes of our lives, our joys and sorrows, and our ability to improvise, to access our own emotional black holes, and our willingness to trust that we have important things to say and meaningful themes to explore all become a part of our unique Voice and Style.

Voice and Style, in essence then, are us; who we are as human beings, exposed to the world in the words we write, the stories we tell, the emotions we show to the world—and those we choose to hide—the fears and hopes and dreams we tell no one but the characters on the pages of our stories. Voice and Style can be exhilarating, but they can also be terrifying.

One of the nicest compliments I ever received came from a writer friend who was in the middle of reading my paranormal suspense novel, Proof of Identity. He told me that he could almost hear my voice as he read, telling him the story of Danae Holloway. He could hear me on the page.

And though it’s completely different in Style—one reader has likened it to reading Jane Austen—my latest release, A Matter of Identity, a literary historical suspense tale, still resonates with my own unique Voice.

Me. My voice. My Voice. Telling a story as only I can tell it. A story that is the compilation of who I am and what I have done and learned in my life. What more could any writer ask for, than to have a Voice that is uniquely theirs?

Thanks, again, Marilyn. I had a great time here on your blog!

Bio: Susan Tuttle, a writing instructor and freelance editor, is the award-winning, “slightly twisted” author of three suspense novels (Tangled Webs, Piece By Piece, Sins of the Past), one paranormal suspense novel (Proof of Identity) and one literary historical suspense novel (A Matter of Identity). In addition, she has one short story collection (Death in the Valley) and appears in 4 anthologies. Her critically acclaimed series 6-volume series Write It Right, explores the 12 essential skills fiction and creative nonfiction writers need to master. Active in both SLO NightWriters and the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Susan lives on the central coast with her invisible cat in a house filled with her (mostly unfinished) quilts and (mostly finished) hand-knit scarves.

Facebook: susanwriter
Twitter: @STuttleWriter
LinkedIn and Goodreads

Book blurb: A Matter of Identity: American Marina Weston, just turned 20, is left orphaned and penniless in London, England. Saddled with her father’s debt and tainted by the stigma of his  suicide, Marina has only three options open to her in 1866: hire out for service; become a prostitute, or starve. With the help of caring friends, Marina is offered a unique opportunity and begins to build a productive life. But fate intervenes when she runs afoul of some very powerful and unscrupulous men. Marina finds herself at their mercy, thrust unknowingly into a diabolical plot that will put her sanity, and her very life, at risk. She must find the strength to overcome the evil conspiracy, but when one’s very identity has been undermined, what is left to hold onto? Will Marina emerge with her sanity—and her identity—intact, or will she end as a pawn in someone else’s game?

(I am so glad to host Susan today. She is a fellow Central Coast Sisters in Crime member and that's where we met. Unfortunately we haven't had nearly enough time together mainly because she actually lives on the central coast and I live in the foothills of the Sierra. One of these days, we're going to sit down and really visit over a cup of coffee or tea. Looking forward to it. Marilyn)


Mara Purl said…
Susan made such good points about Voice and Style, key elements for every writer. As she points out, there's no "short cut" to arriving at these key elements. We can and should read and study other authors. And then, our job as authors is to allow life's experiences to filter through us, until a distillation arrives that is unmistakably "us." Thank you Susan, and thank you Meredith! Two marvelous authors. -- Mara Purl
Mara, thank you. You're someone else I'd like to chat with a little longer than our usual encounters.
Richard said…
Thanks Marilyn and Susan ! Always learning from my mentor and this was an easy way to refresh/learn anew from Susan, even though I live 2500 miles south these days. Best of Luck to you both !!
(The above was written in my own Voice, with whatever Style I could muster)
Susan Tuttle said…
Thanks, Mara and Richard, so glad what I wrote made sense to you both and was of help. And Marilyn, yes, we do need to sit down and do a marathon catch-up. After all, this is all your fault... you were the first author I met after moving here to the Central Coast, and you so inspired me. Thanks for hosting me today... Looking forward to our little coffee klatch!

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