Annie On Writing

September 9, 2009

Finding your Writers Voice

Filed under: Writing Tools — Annie Evett @ 1:18 am
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This article was first published over at Write Anything

Every writer, at some point, struggles to find a consistent voice within their text. Without this strong voice resonating with your readers, your stories can appear listless, flabby and uninteresting, even if it is structurally and grammatically sound. A writers voice is the quality of the prose you present to your readers giving them the feeling that you are comfortable expressing with yourself on either the page or screen. A writer can employ a number of writing voiced depending on the style or genre they are writing in, but consistency and familiarity of that voice is integral to the success of the story’s acceptance. As such is an important tool to familiarize and experiment with as part of your basic writing toolbox.

Why is it important?
Your writers voice is the distinctive blend of insights, description, character portrayal and style you employ in order to speak with your audience. A consistent writers voice is critical to good writing. If your voice is erratic, hesitant, confused, embarrassed or unsure, your audience will not continue to read your work. Without a strong writing voice, your work runs the risk of coming across as robotic, stilted, academic or dry. Publishers and editors are searching for new voices and they way you present the essence of your story needs to speak to them on a unique level above all other texts that come across their desks.

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...
Voices?  Do you hear Voices? Image by BL1961 via Flickr

Voices? What voices?
Sometimes your writing voice is the one you hear when you think. For other writers it’s how they speak in normal conversation. Writers often claim that they hear a character telling them a story – or ‘their part’ of the plot and many either dream or vision their storylines. Regardless of how you source your storyline, the way in which you then present the text becomes your writers voice and the one that your readers will hear.

How do you find your natural writers voice?
In many instances the writers voice is very different to who or what the writer is socially or personally. Its entirely possible for a shy person to write stories full of passion and lust, action and heroic deeds; just in the same manner that a gregarious, outgoing person can employ a gentle and introspective writing way.

Begin to discover your own writing voice by writing – at least half a page – either long hand or typing -every day. Start with a random topic every day – or simply discuss your everyday life in a stream of consciousness. Start to ‘chat’ on the page – as if you were telling a good friend about that topic. Those funny asides and colourful descriptions are exactly he sorts of things to include and will develop into your natural style. Don’t edit or sit in front of the page for ages trying to fine the ‘right’ word to being. Just write. Don’t hesitate. Be honest. Every writers voice is unique in its style and its essential that you write everyday – even a few lines, in order for you to find the natural voice with all its rhythms and idiosyncrasies.

Dare to get it wrong
Your writers voice is a reflection of how your characters experience the settings and world you create around them. Dare to explore your characters and invest time in getting to know them. Dare to tell the story in their words. As you allow them to do so, listen to how they do it and then being writing. If you can hear them – its likely that you will get the voice of the story right as well. The words and way this story is written may not be the way you normally write – so dare to get it wrong and be pleasantly surprised when it becomes one of your readers favoured or most acclaimed to date.

Dare to be passionate
Self editing and perceiving every moment how your audience wants to hear your stories will end you in misery and writers paralysis. Dare to be passionate with your writing and use a variety of everyday and high-brow language, mixing the pattern of your sentences, and the way these things fit in with the personality of the character whose point of view you are narrating. Through experimenting with these styles, you may find the writers voice which best suits the way you want to convey your message.

The bare bones of a story is made up from the plot, characters and its setting and certainly without strong representation from each, you would be left with a poor structure. Its only through the writer’s voice that a story begins to take on a life of its own and have a soul.

Image by BL1961 via Flickr

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