The Elusive Concept of "Voice" (Jodi Moore)

As writers, we’re told that’s the one thing editors look for. It’s also the one thing they can’t fix. They can correct grammar and spelling. They can point out where characters need to be fleshed out. They can help us develop plot.

But voice? Voice is unique. Distinct. And in a very real sense, it’s what “speaks” to them, and to our readers.

We all have a voice. So why is the concept so mysterious? Why is it so hard to define with respect to writing? Why is it so hard to “find”?

The other night, my hubby was playing music for me. He played an album cut that I’d never heard before, yet I immediately connected with.  You see where I’m going with this? It was the voice. It was unique. Distinct. It spoke to me.

“I like this song,” I said. “It sounds like David Bowie.”

“That’s because it is,” he replied.


I think at that moment, I started to realize what voice truly is (at least to me!) It’s one we immediately recognize because of its unique sound or style. It’s no carbon copy; rather, it’s one others often try to emulate. 
For me, true voices are honest. They resonate, in every sense of the word. They not only provide a distinct tone, timber and character, but they also echo within our minds and hearts long after we’ve read or heard the last word.

In best case scenarios, like David Bowie, these voices can draw us in, transport us to new worlds and fill our souls. They assist in connecting us on a human, emotional level.

But here’s the thing. We don’t have to like a voice. There may be artists that I appreciate or respect for their talent, but I may not necessarily like their sound or what they have to say. In fact, there are voices I’d rather not hear.

That being said, when I do, I know exactly who they are…because they’ve developed something that’s distinctive to them. 

When we grow as writers, we are challenged to not only develop our own voice, but unique ones for each of our characters. It's not an easy task...but one well worth it.

Simply put, words matter. And when paired with the right voice, they can inspire. Empower. Transcend.

It’s time to find, hone and use yours. The world is waiting to hear it.


  1. Good point about not having to like a voice. That was my reaction to GONE GIRL.

    1. I agree--I don't often think of it like that, but it's so true. Great post!

  2. David Bowie is a perfect example! He changed and transformed over the course of his career, both in the style of his music and in the tone and timbre of his voice (from the high-pitched wail of Ziggy Stardust to the low, seductive drawl of the Thin White Duke) but yet he was always HIMSELF. If only we could all make such an indelible mark.

  3. Singers' voices are a GREAT way to illustrate writers' voices.


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