Voice is subtle, and yet so essential to a good novel. It's what makes the reader want to read your next book, and the next. Lack of a good voice makes the reader want to put the book down and read something else instead.
What exactly does voice mean? And how do writers develop a great voice? It's a complex subject, one that beginning writers may not grasp easily at first.
It took me a while to find a good voice for my characters, and even now, I struggle with this point at times. It's a little like bowling. Sometimes you get the hang of it and get strike after strike, and sometimes - for some reason - you kind of lose the touch and hit the gutter repeatedly. It's an art that can be learned and mastered, but it takes time.
According to Wikipedia, a writer's voice is "(...) the individual writing style of an author. Voice was generally considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works)."
There's also character's voice, which is the unique voice of each character in the novel, how they speak, their personality showing through.
In my research, I found quite a few useful links about the subject. I hope they will help you as much as they've helped me.
Articles are great tools, but there's nothing like reading a book with a great voice to really grasp what all that means. One book immediately comes to mind: SLOB, by Ellen Potter. It's a middle grade novel I've read and reviewed last year, and it struck me how great the voice was in that novel. I loved it from the very first page.
I have another one in mind, one that gave me an 'a-ha' moment while reading it. It's a soon-to-be-published (I hope!) novel from one of my critique partners, Ralene Burke. She wrote her story from several characters' POVs (alternating between chapters or sections) and each had such a distinct voice that transpired not only in the dialogue parts, but in the whole section that was written in their POV. I was impressed by how well she developed each of their voices.
Do you know any other great articles about voice I could add to this list?