The Writers Circle: Unique Voices

One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

I’m trying to compile a list of books and stories that have unique and particularly creative narrative voices. Many novels rely more on plot or setting to deliver their oomph, but for some, it’s the voice of the storyteller that gives the book it’s impact. Sometimes this voice is a third person narrator, but interjects their personality into the telling–Hitchiker’s Guide is a good example of this. Other times the story is told by a character, and this can bring added dimension to the relationship between the character and the reader.

A great example of the unique voice of a character/narrator is Steel Beach by John Varley. The sci-fi world is doled out with the voice of a wildly-opinionated, and snarky narrator who over the course of the book goes from male to female and back to male, and dies several times. The fact that we experience these through his/her/his own words gives these alienating events a powerful immediacy.

We’d like to hear your picks for unique voices–either from a character or narrator. Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.


11 thoughts on “The Writers Circle: Unique Voices

  1. Taylor Stevens has a unique voice, as well as a unique character–an androgynous human who passes for male or female depending upon how s/he acts and decorates her/himself. Name: Vanessa Michael Munroe.

  2. Holden Caulfield, main character and narrator in first person of Catcher in the Rye, had a very unique language style.

  3. Oh, sorry….author was J.D. Salinger.

  4. John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer winning novel, awarded posthumously after his suicide for A Confederacy of Dunces. Even when the characters are not tagged, you can tell who’s speaking by their voice: Ignatious Reilly, Burma Jones, Lana Lee, MissTrixie, Gus Levy, among many others. Their foibles and desires broadcast in a hundred dialects, idioms, and quixotic phrases, but nearly everyone wants just two things: the rent paid and Peace at Any Price.

  5. The Dark Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop. Unique (to me, at least) in that you never hear the voice of the main character but rather the voices of the characters around her, who define who and what she is, her motivations and choices.

  6. In the book “Care of Wooden Floors” by Will Wiles both the narrator and the off screen character of his friend have very distinctive voices, the friend communicates by way of post it notes left around his flat which the narrator finds during the course of the story as he is flat sitting . These notes give the reader a very clear picture of the man who wrote them even though he is unseen for most of the book.

  7. In the historic novel Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka, the author delivers distinct voices for his characters with a an artistic eloquence.

  8. The whole setup of Gone Girl was great. It seems I come across many ‘hate her or love her’ type people when referencing Gillian Flynn, but with the dual narration of both characters, both in states of shock and confusion, it really keeps thing fresh and exciting. Especially with both unique perspectives and points of view.

  9. The most unique voice I’ve ever heard is that of Jack, a five-year-old boy who is confined in the small room he was born in, the same room his kidnapped mother was imprisoned in years earlier. “Room” by Emma Donaghue is a moving and heart-rending account of a boy’s view of the only world he knows exists, defined by the dreaded visits of the kidnapper who sired him and the “presents” of food and other necessities that he brings along, as well as the TV programs they are allowed to watch, all of which Jack believes only exist inside the television box. To my mind, Donaghue captures perfectly the perspective of a young soul whose life experiences have been severely limited but who, like his mother, has an infinite capacity for survival and for reaching out to and understanding the only other person they love and can depend on. Posted by Gayle Moore-Morrans

  10. The narrator in “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher is excellent. It is a YA novel, but the story is told through the point of view of two different characters. One is the voice of a dead girl explaining why she committed suicide. The other is a boy who received the tapes recorded by the girl before her death who is trying to figure out what part he had to play in her suicide.

  11. “Name of the WInd” by Patrick Ruthfuss. It is an epic fantasy written in 1st person. Kvothe, the main character, is living in a small town as an innkeeper when the Chronicler comes along and demands to know his story. Because Kvothe, it turns out, is actually something of a legend. The novel is the first of a series and it’s the first book I’ve ever read that really gets into the mind of a person that other people hail as a hero.

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