Musing on voice, its advantages and disadvantages

The predictability of being unpredictable.

As I’ve stated earlier, I’ve been writing for flash fiction contests for over a year now, and although almost all the judges judge ‘blind’ (they collect the stories without the author’s information) they almost always know its me.

“Why?” you ask.

The easiest answer is: my voice.

My voice is recognizable.  There is a rhythm and flow that is mine, and mine alone.  I have a tendency to write odd stories with quirky twist endings that hopefully amuse and bemuse– but its hard to pull off a surprise ending when the reader is expecting it.

It’s like in fencing- you feint to draw your opponent away from something and then you attack: the feint only works when they think its real.  When you have a reputation for trickery, your job gets a lot harder.  You have to build that trust necessary to pull them in: otherwise they’re just waiting for it.

I don’t always write ‘trick endings’, I’ve written some beautiful stories that are usually hopeful and keep with my sunny disposition, but sometimes I take a dive into the macabre… usually because I can, but mostly because people aren’t entirely expecting it.

The first time I used that particular twist, it was effective because it was so unexpected.  The second time– people were expecting it.  The third time it was like watching people stepping out onto the ice pushing a weight in front of them to make sure the path was safe.

It lost its effect.

Humor has been a good fall back for me, and while people expect it, they aren’t as nervous reading the story.  Occasionally, for competitions, I’ve disguised my voice, changed up my rhythm and camouflaged my style… just to get that surprise to actually be a surprise: but that’s hard work.

Its funny, they teach you develop your voice and that recognition is good in almost every class or workshop I’ve ever taken, but it does make keeping things ‘new’ that much harder.

Just a thought.


April 24, 2014


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