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Historical Romance Author

Voice and “The Voice”

Voice and “The Voice”

If I had to choose a favorite of the TV talent shows, it’d be NBC’s “The Voice.”

On The Voice four judges sit with their backs turned to the contestants as they perform so the singer’s appearance doesn’t factor into their decision. During the performance, if one of the four judges turns their chair around he is offering the contestant a place on his team. If more than one judge turns, then it’s up to the contestant whose team they want to join.

There are no flops on The Voice. No delusional wanna-bes. These people are all talented, and yet some of them don’t impress the judges. Now, my untrained ear can’t always discern why the judges turn the moment they do. Many times they sit through most of the song before committing so they have as much information as possible, but the most notable exception I remember was when Judith Hill sang.

Three seconds into her song…THREE SECONDS…two judges simultaneously hit their button and offered her a place on their teams. They didn’t wait to hear if she would make a mistake. They didn’t give her a chance to demonstrate her range. Something about her voice inspired confidence from the first notes. They immediately knew that she had mastered her craft.

Do you ever have this reaction when you pick up a book? In writing circles you hear the term “voice” thrown around a lot. It’s that unique style that each author brings to their work. Sure we can try to break it down to vocabulary and syntax, but it’s also something undefinable that lets you know that this author can be trusted. He will tell this story with skill and not disappoint you. Sometimes it takes a few pages to hear that voice, but with the great ones we recognize it immediately…even if we’re not sure what defines it.

Voice. It’s what makes a singer or a writer unique.

Of your favorite writers, whose voice is the most unique? How about music artists?


  1. Great analogy, Regina! I’ve only watched The Voice a couple of times, but I completely get what you are saying. Voice is so elusive in our writing, the one thing that is hard to teach. (Although, like with singing, I think training can hone a good voice into a better one.) And just like on the show, what one person likes in a singing or writing voice might vary greatly to another person. It might not impress in the same way. And that’s ok, too. But there are some that you just know are brilliant–from just a few notes or just a few words. A couple of today’s authors that I feel have very distinctive voices in their writing are Alexander McCall Smith and Lisa Samson.

    • I agree about Lisa Samson, but I don’t think I’ve read any Alexander McCall Smith. Thanks for the tip.

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