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Scott Lax Blog

What is Voice in Writing?

What is "voice" in writing? Having just read Joseph O'Neill's NETHERLAND, I again see that voice is really tone. Maybe that's more confusing. Think of it in terms of music. Let's say that one saxophone player plays a song well. Then you listen to John Coltrane playing the same song. Let's say that even the notes are the same (which wouldn't be the case, but let's say so anyway).

Coltrane's tone is what set him apart. It's the tone, the voice, that sets apart great writers from the rest. It comes from somewhere different than the usual pathways in the brain. It comes from deeper than thinking. It comes from the writer's soul, just as Coltrane's playing came from his soul.

Voice is not simply being original. It's being true to yourself -- your unique self. If you learn the form -- say writing, saxophone, whatever -- you can express it. Don't grasp for words. Let them rise up in you like a great sax solo. Learn the art form, the craft, and allow its expression.  Read More