Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finding Your Voice

Recently a friend asked me about voice problems he was having in his novel. It got me to thinking. More and more lately I come across agents who are looking for a unique voice. At first I thought, what in the world does this mean? After a bit of research I realized they meant an author's style, what makes them unique and authentic. More to the point, it is what makes them stand out. Finding your voice isn't about being the next Stephenie Meyer, James Rollins, or Stephen King, it's about being you.

So how do you find your voice? It sounds mystical and sometimes unreachable but really it's quite simple. Your writing voice is your style, it's the way you put words, paragraphs, and even chapters together. Your voice is about the unique way you twist a plot, breath life to your characters, and keep the reader hooked.

You cannot~or more to the point should not~emulate another writer's voice. Don't overthink it. Let the words flow. This isn't to mean you can't use how-to books, tutorials, or attend workshops and retreats. That's style, not voice. By all means learn as much about style as you possibly can. But when it comes to voice listen to your instincts and your heart. Let things flow in the most natural way they can for you. If that means first person, write first person, if it means third, then write in third person.

Don't follow the latest trend or writer style. Be true to yourself and let your own shine through. When its your voice and not a copy of someone else, the authenticity will draw people to you and set you on the path to publication.



  1. Heather, all I ever hear is they are looking for a unique voice. And most of that remains a mystery to most of us. But if we develop a unique style, I think we'll know when we find it. Thanks for a great post!

  2. It's important to remember that author voice and character voice are two very different things and developed in two very different ways.

    Great advice here - to be true to yourself. That's the best thing to do ALL the time!

  3. Karlene, exactly! It develops over time and sort of finds us.

    Donea, excellent point, so true! Maybe I'll do a post on character voice next. :)

  4. So true, Heather! For your voice to be unique it has to be, well, just yours! Emulating is a fantastic way to get into a rhythm and style you love--I think almost all of us do it unconsciously when we start writing--but once that happens, your own voice takes over and hopefully sings.

  5. No truer words have ever been said, Heather.

    You did a fantastic job of explaining voice. I wish this was available when I first started to write. It would have cleared up SO much of my confusion.