I talk a lot about your writing voice but I’ve never actually addressed what this means or how to go about finding it.
Enter this article!
A writing voice is something all writers have, but when you’re just starting out it can seem daunting and tricky to find yours. Especially when everyone else seems to have theirs nailed down.
Don’t worry, it’s not as tricky as it seems.
What do you mean, finding your voice?
Your writing voice is essentially your writing style. It’s the way you write and tell your stories.
Of course, some styles might change depending on your characters but generally, authors have their own unique style and voice.
Think about your favourite authors and how they write. Compare them to other authors. You’ll start to see patterns in words and rhythms emerging. That’s their voice.
Your writing voice for fiction isn’t necessarily the same as your non-fiction writing voice. For example, my voice for writing these blogs is very different to how I write my novels.
Okay, so why do I need to find my voice?
Honestly, every writer starts off copying other voices.
It’s only natural. You read a book, you fall in love with it and you emulate it.
This is absolutely fine at the beginning, in fact I encourage it. It’s the best way to learn and to, eventually, find your own voice.
As the great Neil Gaiman once said:
“Most of us find our own voices only after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.”
As you start to write more seriously and start to make a story your own, you’ll want to use your own voice.
Finding your own voice is a wonderful, empowering part of being a writer. It means that you can stand out, find readers who like you for you and your stories, and you can tell your stories in a more authentic and unique way.
But finding your own voice is more than that. It should also mean that writing becomes easier. Finding your own style means not having to concentrate so hard on what words you choose and in what order. As you become more comfortable with your writing and your style, the words will flow and it’ll get easier and easier to start and finish writing.
Finding your writing voice does not mean using your real voice
Don’t write the way you speak. Even when it comes to dialogue (although this does play a part in great dialogue. More on that another time).
When we speak, we stumble over words, change direction half way through sentences, shorten and abbreviate, and our grammar is awful.
Trust me. When I’m not writing and talking about fiction, I work as an admin and marketing assistant for small businesses, and I love doing a bit of transcription. Nothing will point out to you the annoying parts of human speech than trying to transcribe it.
As I say, dialogue is a little different and writing a narrative as if a character is telling the story is different too.
But otherwise, I think there’s a good balance to be found between a more formal approach and how you would talk in the real world.
The thing is, there is no right or wrong way to finding and styling your voice.
Top tips for finding your voice
- The biggest and best tip to finding your author voice is to practise.
I know, I know, you don’t want to hear that. You want something more in-depth and magical, but the more you write, the more you’ll get comfortable writing, and the more comfortable (and inspired) you get, the more you voice will come out, develop and get defined.
So keep writing!
- Experiment. Try putting a little bit of your own humour in there and allow yourself to play with different structures, short and long sentences, and different points of view. Among all that playing, you’ll find something you love, that comes easy and that works really well. That’ll be your voice.
- Keep reading. Obviously, we don’t want to copy other writers in the long run, but reading around can do wonders for your voice. You might discover new styles you hadn’t thought of that can work their way into your own style of writing, or you might find styles you hate, in which case you can make sure you never use them. Consider each book you read and work out what it is about the voice that you love/hate, what works and what doesn’t.
As with all aspects of writing, your voice and style is completely subjective. What one reader loves, another will hate, so work on your voice for you.
Find and develop a style that works for you, comes easy and tells stories the way you want to.
Don’t forget, your voice can change over time and depending on the story. In fact, it will evolve over time as you learn new things, find different stories to tell and grow as a writer.
What’s the most important thing to remember?
Well, there are two really important things to remember when it comes to finding your writing voice.
- Don’t overthink it. This is not something to worry about or force. Just keep writing and eventually your style will develop.
So, relax and enjoy your writing.
The rest will come.
How did you find your writing voice? Or are you still working on it?
Let us know your tips in the comments.