Finding your voice is an answer to the question “Who is your reader?” Is this person looking for something serious, suspenseful, authoritative, humorous, spiritual, entertaining, dark, deep, light-hearted, or something else, that you may find parallels in a category on the booksellers’ shelves? Regardless of the central thread, your voice is uniquely you.
It’s ironic how your author’s voice is discerned by those who know you well. When you talk to close friends and family and tell them about your book, your author’s voice takes over. It’s a great way to discover what it sounds like, especially if you’re struggling to pin it down.
Most of us already have a voice, though it may vary slightly based on the books we write. Here’s what my author friend, Kara O’Neal shares about voice:
Voice in writing can only be discovered and honed by the writer. And, unfortunately, it takes practice. The author must become one with the words on the page, with the emotions the writing is causing, and with characters being developed. Once that happens, the author will find his or her style. For me, it took re-writing my first book three times. And even after doing that, it wasn’t until my sixth book that I felt I’d found my voice. If there’s any advice I can give, it’s to practice until it becomes a part of you, until it is a habit, and the words belong to you alone. ~ Kara O’Neal, award-winning author of family centered, historical romance.
Finding your author’s voice is not an arduous process. It’s a combination of who you are, what you like to read, and how you string together a paragraph. It’s in there. But it’s also more than your tone. It’s your writing style, your unique approach to crafting a book. It’s your narrative and character’s voice, your sentence structure, your word choice, and how you relate what you visualize in your mind to the reader. You can tell this ‘style’ or ‘voice’ when you read two different types of books by the same author. For example, Jerry Jenkins writes both fiction and non-fiction, and his straightforward, strong, authoritative voice always shines through. You can tell this is a writer with years of experience and talent for his craft.
But you don’t need to be an expert with years of writing experience under your belt. Everyone has a “voice.”
I know my author’s voice well by now and whether I’m writing a business book, suspense-filled fiction, or even something for children, humor will be there. My dark and stormy protagonist will have a few snide quips, toss out a few humorous self-deprecating comments, and even crack jokes in the heat of the moment. It’s what I do, and so there it is. I have been a storyteller since my youth and on to running a business and delivering keynote speeches to audiences, so trust me, those ‘ha-ha’ anecdotes and jocular author’s voice always pop out. Have you read my blogs? No matter who you write for, or why you write your books, blogs, stories, poems, or whatever, you want your reader to say, I feel like this author gets me.
Yup, they’re writing this story just for me.