August 2017: Distinguishing voice

Tonight we had a discussion about VOICE, and considering all attendees to our writing group today were female, whether a female can effectively tell a story in a male voice.

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One of us brought in a story she’s working on for the upcoming¬†Catchfire Press Competition¬†due at the end of October. It is written in first person deep point of view, but the challenge is that the main character is male. We discussed whether the story had a effective male voice, and how the author could strengthen the male voice without coming across as stereotypical.

The main character is a father taking his 3 year old daughter to a swimming lesson. Three aspects we discussed about the story, that could be changed to make it sound more masculine were:

  • We changed ‘I avoid looking at the swim coach’ to ‘I’m not going to look at the swim coach’.
  • We removed the words ‘of course’ throughout the story, as we agreed this can sound feminine.
  • We changed the sentence ‘I push her feet into her shoes then take them off again, sigh loudly, and put them on the right feet this time.’ to ‘I shove her shoes on. For f#$%’s sake, they’re on the wrong the feet again, but I’m not changing them now.’

One of the group also mentioned that a great example that shows the difference between male and female voice is a book by Margaret Atwood called ‘The Heart Goes Last‘.

What do our readers think? What ways can you manipulate words to change the voice from male to female or the other way round?