I’m Not Saying Authors Are Like Rattlesnakes

During a late lull at yesterday’s Indie Authors Day at the American Fork Library, I jotted down some thoughts, intending to refine them and post them today. Here they are.

Authors Are People Too

Authors are people too. I’ve yet to find any who aren’t. (That’s not a shot at AI, but it could be.) I’ve met a handful of authors who have become celebrities; even they are still people. Celebrities becoming authors is not even remotely the same thing, but for all I know they’re people too.

If you’re shy about talking to an author at a book signing or some other event, try to remember this. The author is probably shy about talking to you, even if she’s learned not to show it.

That sounds a lot like something we say about rattlesnakes, but I’ve never met an author who was a rattlesnake or vice versa. It’s just that most of us are introverts. We enter the world through writing our words, which you then read – not by talking to people, and especially not by talking to strangers about ourselves and our creations.

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“That’s not your voice”

Much is written about the author’s voice (sometimes called style), especially in fiction. For example, here’s a good, short, recent Medium article about authorial voice. Voice is crucial; voice is powerful; voice can draw readers into stories, through whole books and even sequels.

All that can be true of character voice and narrative voice too. (The narrator is often a character, even in third person points of view.) But the author’s voice is and should be distinct from the others. This has not always been so, but we’ve come to expect it. It may be difficult to discern or define from a single story or book, but it can draw readers through a writer’s entire body of work.

We’ll get to the author’s voice in a moment, but let’s go by way of character voice. You’ll note that I’m avoiding a systematic definition of voice, except to say we sometimes call it style. Maybe this a cop-out, but we know it when we hear it.

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