Finding Your Voice

fiction voiceI’ve long suspected that at least in terms of nonfiction I have found my voice.  That was confirmed by the critique I got from Chronicle’s Taylor Norman at the Missouri SCBWI Advanced Writer’s Retreat.  I submitted the picture book version of What’s Up, Chuck?  which is basically a scientific take on vomit.  Yes, there is actually enough information for 14 spreads.  In reality there’s enough for much, much more. To make a short story long, Taylor commented positively on my voice.  Woo-hoo!  She not only found it, but she liked it.  I have a nonfiction voice.

That said, no one has ever made that comment about my fiction voice.  Part of the problem is probably that I simply don’t share my fiction very often.  They aren’t going to have anything to say about it unless they read it but I don’t think that’s the entire problem.

I also need to make sure that my voice is a good match for what I’m writing.  This weekend, we had the opportunity for first page critiques.  Out of a dozen commentators, two people loved my voice.  Several others commented that they thought the character’s vocabulary was too much for a 7 year-old. Yet several more felt that the story should be a chapter book.

In reality, I think these are all comments on my fiction voice.  The vocabulary level is “enriched” and its a bit cheeky.  That makes it a natural fit for middle grade on up.  Picture books?  I’ve read plenty of picture books with this type of voice but I wonder if they are typical.  I suspect that they are far from it.

Does this mean that I should change my voice?  I suspect not.  But I am going to have to write more fiction so that I develop confidence in this facet of my voice.  Until then, I’ll keep writing with the knowledge that I sound like myself and the awareness, that at least for some, my voice may be an acquired taste.