You may have heard the expression “writing voice” or “writer’s voice.” Perhaps an editor has even told you that you need to develop your voice as a writer. Or maybe you heard that a fresh voice can help you stand out in the crowded world of publishing—and draw the attention of agents and editors—and, ultimately, readers.

Wikipedia defines writer’s voice as “the individual writing style of an author, a combination of their common usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).”

Sounds kinda complicated. How do you figure out what voice means for you and how can you discover your voice as a writer? Here are some tips from fiction authors.

Many authors suggest an introspective method for finding one’s voice.

 

 

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Author and editor James Ryan Daley

James Ryan Daley, editor and author of the novel Jesus Jackson, centers on examining the self deeply and honestly:

 

“Interrogate yourself. Ask yourself difficult questions, and don’t james ryan daley book coverbelieve the answers. Force a confession and demand specific examples. Withhold pleasures like food and coffee and alcohol until you tell yourself the truth. Finding your voice means learning how to be honest enough with yourself to be honest with your readers.”

 

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Author Alina Adams

Other authors actually look to their readers to find their voice. In a rather extreme example, Alina Adams, a New York Times best-selling author is actually asking her audience for feedback on voice, and writing to please her audience, in her new experimental writing project:

 

“If you want to write professionally, the only voice that matters is the one that sells. When I wrote tie-ins for the soap operas, As the World Turns and Guiding Light, I wrote not in my voice, but in the voice of the characters narrating the books. And those books became NYT best-sellers. Currently, I am taking writing to please an audience up a notch by producing my next book completely live online where readers can tell me which voice they prefer.”

 

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Author John McCaffrey

John McCaffrey, author of The Book of Ash and an editor, instead, suggests looking at your own writing and patterns as a way to find your voice:

 

“Finding one’s voice as a writer takes time, patience and john mccaffrey book coverdetective work. To this end, read over past works and while doing so, keep track of any recurring patterns, be it images, themes, plots, character traits, etc. Study those you employ most frequently, trace them to your thoughts and feelings, and you will find your voice.”

 

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Author and writing coach Trelani Duncan

Trelani Duncan, an author, editor, and writing coach, offers a few practices and exercises for finding one’s voice and also getting the writing process flowing.

 

“Journaling is the best way to find your writer’s voice. Write freely sans correction. Freewriting is another phenomenal tool. Write fast for five minutes straight without erasing or pausing. Prompts are optional. Audio-recording the message or passage then transcribing it is another suggestion.”

 

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P.I. Barrington, a multi-published author provides several specific tips for the book coverprocess of finding one’s writer’s voice:

 

1. Read ALL genres and Points of View.

2. Analyze how the author handles prose.

3. Decide how much description works for you.

4. Learn about passive/active voice.

5. Read articles on pacing, technique, and editing.

6. Experiment with style and voice.

7. Find what works for you.

 

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Author and publisher Rachel Green

Rachel Green, a publisher and author of Stone Blood, suggests that a writing voice can change and be influenced by what one reads:

 

“I find that my voice is subconsciously influenced by whatever I’ve been rachel green book coverreading lately. I reread books from authors that inspire me on a regular basis and when I feel like my style is falling in a rut, I reach for something new to read.”

 

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Author Raegan Payne

Raegan Payne, a playwright and creator of TheGoodMuse, points to how a writer’s critical inner voice can sometimes hinder the actual creative process and development of one’s writer’s voice:

 

“I think the most important and most challenging part of being a writer is to be able to write without censoring yourself. Writers can be their own harshest critics so it’s important to learn to turn off that voice that tells you it’s not good enough or it’s a bad idea.

“I try to write at least a page of something, anything a day, and during that time I turn off all the criticism in my brain and tune out anything coming in from the outside world. That has been the key to my success.”

 

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Author Cathrine Goldstein

Cathrine Goldstein, the author of The Letting, considers the character of a book just as important as the author and suggests a way to find your voice by immersing yourself in the character:

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“I work from the inside out and rely on my theatre roots. I recommend all writers try an acting class at least once! You’ll learn to live a character, not just write one. Once you have the character’s soul, finding your voice, your style, comes easily.”

 

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Author Gregg Feistman

Likewise, Gregg Feistman, author of The War Merchants, doesn’t consider his writing voice as his own, but rather as the voices of the characters which then helps create and develop the story:

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“I don’t consciously think about my voice as a writer. Instead, I let my characters’ voices speak. I let them tell the story at their own pace, rhythm, and cadence. Their personalities come out which helps move the story along.”

 

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Author Jack Woodville London

Jack Woodville London, author of A Novel Approach (To Writing Your First Novel, or Your Best One), provides some specific tips to practice that will help develop writing voice:

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1. Try writing sentences in the active voice, rather than passive voice. Practice with everything you write (emails, letters, etc.).

2. Go back over what you wrote yesterday. Read it in the fresh light of day.

3. Always practice your craft, but be patient with yourself.

 

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Try some of these tips and exercises the next time you sit down to write the next great American novel! Let us know how they work for you and add any of your own tips in the comments below.

You can read more tips for how to find your writing voice for nonfiction or a writing voice for blogging.

2 Responses to How to Find Your Writing Voice for Fiction: Tips from Novelists and Other Fiction Writers

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