It is hard to define, ain’t it?? Not unlike obscenity in the “knows it when I sees it” characteristic. As Cathy said above, it’s a fluid combination of many factors, including (but not limited to):
* diction, i.e. not just particular word choices, but a leaning in one direction or another in terms of the types of words chosen.
* syntactical style – from the spare SVO declarative of Hemingway to the wandering, discursive, interminable periods of James.
* tone – conversational? Imperative? Didactic? Philosophical? Highfalutin’? Just a bloke?
When a writer masters a voice and sticks with it, the writing definitely becomes identifiable. Wharton is an excellent example from Cindy’s presentation, and the tabletalk in the Corner Booth afterwards brought up Wodehouse, Chandler and a couple of others. In PGW’s case, it was critical to his livelihood for readers to feel comfortable in his stories, so the voice became a “brand marker,” as it did for Chandler and many others. Practically patented, these voices became, and any imitators needed to beware. Unlike Hemingway of course whose “voice” spawned a cottage industry of parodists.
More on voice, please.