The notion of voice is a little difficult for an aspiring author without a lot of background in literature or creative writing. My starting “craft” book was “Writing Fiction for Dummies” by Ingermanson and Economy. They define voice as “…the particular way that a character puts together words to express rational speech and rational thought. ” They provide examples such as Huck Finn and Scarlet O’Hara. Ideally every character in a book should have his/her own voice. The definition seems deceptively simple. In practice it is hard to deliver. In addition, the author’s own voice should be evident from the work as well.
Voice is a tough nut for a beginner to crack. In the writing of a first draft, I noticed that a number of my characters sound very much the same. I feel like I failed the “voice” test. I started looking for some good examples within the thriller genre and came up with what I really thought was a great example of a “voice.” In Daniel Silva’s novels, his protagonist is Gabriel Allon, and Israeli assassin and art restorer. When Allon speaks, the reader gets the feeling that they are listening to an Israeli who is very intelligent and quick-witted, but has a sarcastic edge that emerges at appropriate times. Many thriller protagonists have a sarcastic edge, but I find it irritating when the sarcastic edge that shows itself far too often. Nothing annoys me more than to have a protagonist make cute quips in a supposed life or death situation. Daniel Silva knows when to hold the sarcasm down and when to make his character more complex and less one-dimensional. When I read one of Gabriel Allon’s lines in a Daniel Silva novel, I can almost always tell when Allon is speaking without any attributions or tags. In my second draft, I will work on the voice of my own protagonist. Daniel Silva provides a great example for a beginning thriller writer to try to emulate.