Last week, I read a couple of articles on that mysterious, enchanting fairy that all writers talk about, voice.
I have had questions from readers in the past, asking me for a definition of what voice means. So, I figured I’d write a post on my interpretation of what is the writer’s voice, does everyone have a voice and how do you get one?
Voice: This is what makes your writing unique. Essentially, it is the way you phrase things, how you picture scenes, how you speak through your characters and how you tell the story that sets you apart from other authors.
Does everyone have a voice? In singing, each person’s voice is unique…sometimes good, bad, amazing or weak. Think of your writing voice as a singing voice. Every person has one and I believe that like singing, a writing voice can be developed. (An article I read last week said that you either have it or you don’t, but I’m a great believer in the power of educating yourself.)
But what if I don’t have any experience? My husband came from a non-musical family, but after years and years of training and dedication, he sings and plays the guitar beautifully! With practice, you can learn to make your writing sing.
How to Find your Voice:
Step One: Study at least 3 of your top favorite successful authors and find out why you love them. Write down what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, how it makes you feel and most importantly: why. Is it the phrasing? Is it the character’s thoughts or tone? Is it the narrative? Is it in the unsaid?
Step Two: Apply it in your writing. Take what you’ve learned from your favorites and weave it into your own writing.
Step Three: Does it sound like you? Now, after applying the stylistic approaches of your favorite authors, it’s time to take a step back and make sure that it still sounds like you. You don’t want to give an agent or publisher something that has been done before. You want it to be unique and how you do that when you are still cultivating your voice is by blending your favorites into your own mix to elevate your writing while still allowing YOUR personality to shine through. You are unique. This is your story. Own it.
Step Four: Time. Writing a book is really one of the best ways to cultivate what you’ve learned. Sometimes, it takes two books to really get that ah-ha moment of when you’ve finally found your voice.
For my first manuscript (which I have long since shelved until I’m ready to re-work it), my voice was almost there. Reading back now, I catch glimpses of it, but since it went through so many revisions, it had lost its way. So, I began again. I wrote without fear and as Wordsworth says, poured the breathings of my heart out onto the page. At the end of six months, it was finished and by the Lord’s grace, an amazing agent asked me to be her client because of it.
Everyone has a voice. You only have to find it and nourish it through education, dedication and time.
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