Monday, July 11, 2011

Voice: A guest blog by A. F. Stewart

Author A.F. Stewart and I are swapping  blogs today. Here's her take on the sometimes slippery concept of voice in fantasy. 

You can call it voice, tone, atmosphere, but it comes down to how you want your book to read and how you want your reader to feel.

An epic fantasy will have a historic, old-fashioned feel, an urban fantasy will have a darker, grittier tone, and a paranormal romance will be softer and more passionate.  The question all writers have to ask is: “what kind of experience do I want people to have when they read my book?”

There are a number of ways to manipulate the voice of your story, through setting, dialogue, character, or description.  In my latest book, Killers and Demons, the tone of each story is set through these elements.  For instance, in Devoid, I used setting to produce claustrophobic isolation, and the unfolding terror of one character to enhance the effect.  I recreate historic Victorian London in two stories, London, 1888 and Victorian Shadows, to give a harsh, spooky backdrop to the plots and use the dialogue and description to bring that time period to life.

Now the point being, that changing any of these fundamentals modifies the essence of your story.  Putting a tale in Victorian London conjures images of gas lamps, fog and old-fashioned clothes; dump that same story in Nebraska of the same era and you get an entirely different feel.  Throw it in the California Gold Rush and it has yet another tone.

The same can be said of character and dialogue.  A smooth, confident character will spill over these qualities into the narrative, taking charge, driving the action and plot events forward.  With a timid, more withdrawn character things will happen to them, and they would shy away from asserting themselves.  For example, a shy man afraid of women would have trouble in luring a beautiful lady into a Valentine’s dinner as does my killer in You Got To Have Heart.  An entirely different tone would have emerged if I had used a shy main character as the killer.

Putting a voice in your work is like a thread that runs from beginning to end to lead your reader through the narrative and show them the world you wanted to create.

Author Bio:
A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home.  She has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination.   She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby. 

Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre.  She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.  She has authored and published several books, including Killers and Demons, Chronicles of the Undead, Shadows of Poetry, Passing Fancies and Once Upon a Dark and Eerie...




  1. Nice take on voice. I'm curious how it works when you come back to an older work. How do you avoid letting your inner editor's voice take over?

  2. Sheila, I tend to stop listening to my inner editor once I've finished a book or story. Otherwise I'd drive myself crazy. I have to leave my work alone or the second thoughts start nibbling; did I do that right or could this be better.
    About the only time I go back to something is if I'm I'm expanding on a story or working on a sequel. And then it's all about the new story.

  3. Good thought. May if I look at it as expanding the story, rather than fixing it... Thanks.