Writer’s voice: What it is and HOW to Develop Your Voice
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Writer’s voice is something that I find extremely hard and I don’t even know how to describe my own voice.
This might not sound very helpful since you’ve come here to learn. However, I do have to tell you the truth instead of pretending I know everything.
I’ve written A LOT of words during my career. I have no idea how many. I do have a certain idea of my own voice. It has short phrases, a lot of full stops and not a lot of swear words. I like when the grammar feels correct, even if it sacrifices a bit of the character personality. Is it a good choice? I’m not sure (probably not) but I can’t help it. It is what it is.
And this is the writer’s voice for me.
It’s the way you write, basically.
And this will set you apart from the way that other people write because it’s unique to you.
Or like Neil Gaiman told us:
Your voice is the stuff you can’t help doing
If the master said it, so who am I to disagree, right?
What is the writer’s voice?
It’s the sum of things you write and the way you compose the phrase.
How will you find your voice?
This one will seem obvious, please don’t be mad:
It’s the only way.
I still don’t know if you can deliberately change your writing tone. Maybe yes but it will take work. For me, I just let it flow.
Technical stuff about writer’s voice
There is some really technical part in this. Creating a persona, which is a voice of the own story. For example, the persona that seems invisible. It doesn’t show up in the writing. The one that it’s formal and many times “borrowed” from the past, the way that people used to talk back then. The one that it’s very informal and close to readers. The one that should be avoided: when you try to sound overwritten.
However, I don’t want to pretend that I get all this here. Like I told you, finding my writer’s voice is still something I’m trying to do.
However, that’s why I rely on the masters to teach me through their Masterclasses
This is class 4 of Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass and it was especially helpful for me. I didn’t know much about the writer’s voice and he explains it like a true literature professor but in an easy to understand way.
However, the thing that helped me the most were the exercises.
I’ll tell you one here:
Writer’s Voice Exercise
- Choose a writer that you like, get one of their books and try to mimic their writing style with your own characters and situation.
This sounded really hard to do. However, after a while, you get how to do it. It really helped me understand how different each person sounds while you’re writing.
I think this is key to understanding what a writer’s voice is.
So, I highly recommend you do this exercise. It’s like when you’re reading a good book and you can’t stop thinking in its tone.
You’re doing it to learn, not to copy somebody else’s work.
Summarizing: How to Develop Your Own Voice
- Study other voices. Get your favorite books and try to see a pattern of how the person writers, try to set one writing tone from another one;
- Learn everything you can about the matter;
- Write. Write a lot. Like, a million words if you need to. Remember, the voice is what you can’t help but doing when you write.
- Analyze your writing. Try to see patterns. Compare to what you’ve seen from the other writers you were studying. How are your paragraphs? Usage of adverbs and adjectives? Long or short phrases? What do you like to do when you write? How is your dialogue? Formal or informal? All of these are part of your writing voice.
What to do if you don’t know if you have a voice?
Don’t stress about it!
Just keep writing and writing.
Don’t try to force it, do what it’s most comfortable for you.
And if you don’t like some aspect of how you write (for example, you don’t like how you always seem to create gigantic and hard to read paragraphs), try to write in some other way.
Explore. This is what a writer does.
But, most importantly, never stop learning. This is what makes all the difference between a bad and a good writer.
How to learn more about that?
The only way is by studying and listening to people that know more than you.
Which, in my opinion, was why I bought Masterclass in the first place.
If you want to know more about his class, I strongly encourage you to check it out here:
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