Writing Basics: Finding Your Voice – The How and The Why

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A while back, I started writing about foundational writing rules with my Writing Basics: How You Should Structure Your Story. Today, I’m going to continue with a subject equally foundational, maybe more so:

Finding Your Writer’s Voice.

First, what do I mean when I say “your writer’s voice”?

Your style. Your uniqueness. The way you construct your sentences, the words you use, humor, suspense, heart. The common thread that readers can pick out in any story you tell. It’s the reason readers will grab a copy of your books, even if it’s not a genre they typically read or you typically write.

Your voice is you.

Do you see what I mean by foundational?

Ready to get to the How and Why on Finding Your Writer’s Voice?

Good.

How to Find Your Writer’s Voice

This one is a simple step, though not the easiest. It can take time, and patience, and a lot of trial-and-error. There is only one rule for finding your voice:

  1. Write.

That’s it. There is no other way. If you don’t write, you won’t discover your unique voice. If you don’t take the time and play with story structure, sentence arrangement, and word usage, you won’t know what works for you.

Go ahead and copy when you’re starting. I know, most will tell you this is a big no-no. I don’t mean copy someone else’s work, but their style. Grab a book from your favorite author and play with their style. Use your own words, your own work, but try it in their voice. Ask yourself, how did that feel? Did it feel good, did it feel like you?

Most likely, it will feel good. There’s a reason you like that author. However, it won’t feel like you. That’s all right. This isn’t meant to be your voice, it’s their voice. Try another author’s voice. How did that feel? Still not you, is it?

Now, write a letter to a friend. Tell them about the most mundane, boring things going on in your life. Only, make those mundane and boring events come alive. Make your friend jealous that you get to fold the laundry or clean the catbox.

All right, that might prove a bit difficult. Seriously, if your friend is jealous over scooping kitty litter, you need to take them to lunch. They need a hug.

The idea here is to write. Write anything and everything. Practice with short stories, flash fiction, poetry. The more you write, your unique voice will flow naturally.

Important: Get people to read what you write, and let them critique it. Let them tell you what they like or didn’t like about it. If you don’t do this, you will miss what it is about you that readers love. Not just like, but love.

Why You Need to Find Your Writer’s Voice

You can already answer this from what I’ve already written (and millions of others have written before me), but in case you want it broken down, here are the two reasons you need to find your voice:

  1. Familiarity
  2. Uniqueness

The two go hand-in-hand. What sets Tolkien apart from Lewis? What made E. Nesbit a powerful voice when not a lot of women were writing fantasy? Why do we still read any of them, and so many others, again and again and again?

Their writer’s voice. Unique voices in a sea of writer’s in the same genres. How many books are written in the fantasy genre about elves and dwarves and magic? Lost count? So, why does Tolkien reign supreme on most lists of the greatest fantasy books ever written? His unique voice.

You want readers to recognize your writing, even if you hop from fantasy to sci-fi to romance to non-fiction self-help. They want to pick up a book with your name on it and find that familiar voice that gives them the warm fuzzies.

Yes, I said warm fuzzies. Difficult if you write horror, but not entirely impossible. Maybe.

Your writing voice is your reader’s best friend. You’re the one they choose again and again when they need a good book. Depending on their reading appetite, or the reading occasion, you’re name is the first that comes to mind. Because they know you, and they love you.

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What do you think? Have you found your writer’s voice? How long did it take you, or are you still working on it?

Any other thoughts you have on this subject, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a comment below.

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I would love to discuss this story and more with you. You can Contact me through email, or Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

And, if you’re an author, I want to offer you help in any way I can. Check out my Author Services page to see more.

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Need a good book? These are what you’re looking for:

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Yanka and the Dragons:

Ten year-old Yanka Ouedraogo finds that dragons are not monsters of stories. They are real, and they are coming. After the arrival of mysterious Princess Su Yin, Yanka discovers her mama once bore the title of Dragon Watcher for the legendary Knights of Tiqvah. Mama leaves to stop the onslaught of dragons and tasks Yanka with protecting her two younger brothers. One problem: after her father’s death, Yanka fears she’s the last person to protect anyone. When dragons invade her village, Yanka learns they want one thing: her. Can she escape the invasion and prove able to protect her brothers? Will the mysterious Knights of Tiqvah arrive to save the day? Or will a new Dragon Watcher appear and stop the carnage in time? (Middle Grade level, but good for the whole family!)

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Slide1

The Piano Player:

World famous musician Mike Jonas broke a promise. Greek muse of music, Euterpe, gave him fame and fortune in return for his complete devotion. When a new love enters his life, Euterpe strikes. She kidnaps Mike’s fiancée Megan and threatens her life unless Mike proves that he still belongs to her. In his quest to fulfill Euterpe’s test, Mike is shaken to his core and all he holds as true is questioned. (Does contain language that might not be suitable for children.)

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9 thoughts on “Writing Basics: Finding Your Voice – The How and The Why

  1. Such an interesting post, Russell. I have to say that I just sort of “happened upon” my writing voice. I think my books “feel” similar in terms of style, character development, pacing, even though the characters’ voices tell the story. It’s interesting to differentiate between writer voice and character voice. Stuff to ponder 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’m still in the process of finding my voice. Years ago I attended a writers’ workshop for poetry writing and the professor said he thought I’d found my voice the second year. Now I focus much more on fiction, so I think the work of finding it begins again, not that this is necessarily negative. I’d hate to think I’d ever feel I knew enough to stop seeking opportunities to learn and grow. Perhaps it’s ever evolving. Perhaps my 21 year old voice won’t be my 30 year old voice, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kind of where I’m at; finding my voice. I got great grades in college on papers and writing assignments, but those are typically sterile and lifeless most of the time. I want people to “want” to read my posts. Thanks for bringing this topic to your readers. Much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

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