Dramaquill's All Things Writing

March 22, 2011

Finding your author’s voice

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I belong to a wonderful online critique group.  From time to time, our group engages in workshops as a way to share information, ask and answer questions, and apply what we’ve learned to our writing.

Recently, thanks to one member’s suggestion, we decided to embark on a week-long discovery of author’s voice.  What is it?  How do you find it?

At first, because none of us felt that we were experts on this subject, we wondered if we would be able to teach ourselves anything of value.  As it turned out, we all discovered ways to find our unique voice and make our writing stand out as our own.

What is your voice?

The easiest way for me to explain it is this:  you write like you speak.

If I call someone I know on the phone and start talking to them, they immediately know it’s me.  If I’m having lunch with friends, I’m certain that if you asked them, they would be able to tell you things about the way I communicate that makes me different from each of them.

We all have our own unique personality and if we can find a way to bring that out in everything we write, then we are well on our way to constructing our own unique voice.

In our workshop, we first gathered bits of writing from different authors and discussed what made each example’s own voice unqiue.  For some, it was the way the author used description.  For others, it was the way the POV shaped characters that jumped off the page as real, three dimensional beings. 

We also discovered that finding the right genre definitely contributed to stronger voice.  If you’re not comfortable writing YA romance novels, perhaps it’s because your unique voice isn’t a good match to that genre.  Maybe you’re more suited to adult suspense or MG adventure.

So how do you know which genre(s) to try?

Read…read…read.

Read authors you love but also try new ones.  Try genres you haven’t read before.  You need to find a real connection to what excites you as a reader so that you can translate that into your author’s voice as a writer.

With so much competition to find a publisher and/or a literary agent, writers must present their absolute best writing every time they submit.  If you feel you’ve done that and you’re still getting rejection after rejection, perhaps you haven’t quite nailed your author’s voice yet.  Many blogs and online articles say that a great portion of their rejections do in fact stem from writing that just doesn’t have a stand-out voice.

Once we had discussed the examples of other writers, members of our group look at their own writing, picking something that they felt lacked that “unique” quality and rewriting it with voice in mind.  In was amazing to see the new results.  Writing that was fine became writing that jumped off the page.  Characters that were bland embodied new life.  Everyone’s writing definitely improved.

We also made some self-discoveries along the way.  Some of us really figured out our ideal genre.  Others unveiled new ways to use POV as a way to develop a more unique voice.   We also found situations where expanding the original brought more voice into it and other situations where cutting certain words and phrases actually brought the voice out better.

We all learned how to make our characters’ voices better and get “inside their heads” on a deeper level.

No one can give you a list of magic steps that will result in finding your own author’s voice but through reading, writing, comparing and learning from others, you will become more aware of how and what you write.

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1 Comment »

  1. EXELLENT summary of our Voice Workshop, Jaclyn. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Sandy Carlson — March 22, 2011 @ 1:16 PM | Reply


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