If you’ve delved at all into the world of writing, you’ve probably heard about this thing called “voice.” I’m not talking about whether you are employing first person, third person, or omniscient point of view. Nor am I referring to the narrator in your story, although both can be a part of voice. So what exactly is author voice? And how can a new author find it? Well, you are in luck because although I am not an expert, I have some thoughts to share on that.
What is author voice? The topic of voice can be frustrating because there are aspects of voice which are entirely intangible. Part of voice is how you use the standard tools of story craft: tone, theme, vocabulary, plot, and character arcs. No two authors will ever tell the same story the same way. What you choose to include in your story, what you choose to focus on in each scene, and for each character is uniquely you. It is what will draw readers to you and what will set you apart from other authors.
Think of a camera. A hundred photographers can photograph the same forest and they will all bring out something different. Each photographer will choose a different angle, and focus their lens on a different set of details. And customers will buy those prints based on how they make them feel. They will choose the photos with the perspectives that mean the most to them. The same is true for the written word. Some people try to imitate an already successful author, but why play copy cat when you can create something new and amazing? You have a perspective and a voice that is unlike anyone else’s. And there are readers out there who will connect with your voice and your body of work.
That’s all great, you say. But how do I find my author voice? Well, it’s gonna take some time. First you need to know who you are as a person and what is important to you. If you don’t know that, it will come out in your work.
Don’t expect to find your voice in your first short story or even your first novel. Some authors do, but it’s pretty rare. The truth is, you need to learn how to write, first. And even if you’ve studied writing craft for years, you can only really learn writing by doing. Photographers have to learn about lighting, exposure, and focus before they can use all of these elements to their advantage. Start writing and write boldly. Write stories that matter to you and then when you are finished, figure out why those stories matter to you. Then move forward and write more. Listen to what people have to say about your work. Their perspectives will help you look at your writing in a new light and you will begin to see what sets your writing apart from other authors. And every time you edit your work you will be re-evaluating what needs to go and what needs to stay. The elements that are important to you will grow stronger and more prolific. And that’s when you will begin to draw readers who love your work.
I played around with writing from when I was eleven to when I was seventeen. I started to get serious about it when I was eighteen. I still had so much to learn about writing craft and my own author voice. But working on my first novel, I felt so much pressure to get it perfect. And once it was finished there was part of me that didn’t want to admit that it had any faults. I had poured my heart and soul into Out of Darkness and at the time I couldn’t imagine writing anything better. In fact, it took a great deal of time before I even had the concept for another book. I didn’t realize that my journey as an author was just beginning. I had no idea that every book would get better and my voice would get stronger, and that I would love each project more than the last. I imagine that my voice will strengthen and even change as I get older, but I’m not afraid of that. I am going to write the best books that I can right now. Next year I’ll do the same. So get on out there, be a student of life in all its complexities, and then write the stories that matter to you.
E.B. Dawson was born out of time. Raised in the remote regions of a developing nation, traveling to America was as good as traveling thirty years into the future. So, it’s really no wonder that she writes science fiction and fantasy. She writes stories that acknowledge darkness, but empower and encourage people to keep on fighting, no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. And as an avid philosopher, she infuses her work with Socratic questions. When not writing, she tries to make a difference in the world by showing love and compassion to those most broken.
Get her books at her website.
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