You know when you pick up a book and the words seem to sing to you? The author seems to have found the perfect balance of their own personality and the story and just the right words and structure to make the whole story come alive? That? That sweet deliciousness that makes you think that you aren’t just reading a story, but you are reading art? That is what experts mean when they talk about voice.
How does a writer’s voice develop?
A writer’s voice is developed through the experiences of their life.
Each life has a unique story and we can’t help but be affected by our heartbreaks and victories. We’ve all be educated in one way or another and this will play a role in the development of our writer voice. The speech patterns and communication styles of the biggest influences in our lives will also play a significant role in the quirks of our voice. I believe that on a subconscious level, we reflect these experiences in our work. Readers pick up on it and are drawn to it. To develop this, a writer can keep journals, free write about past experiences or sketch out what they remember. Even if a writer never chooses to write what he knows this exercise will help him deal with universal emotions, learn cause and effect, and develop a few characters.
Develop your voice with your passions.
We have drives, issues, and philosophies that propel us forward. These will likely show up in our themes and conflicts. Readers are drawn to passionate writers. Writers are artists. The good ones use their palette of words to express big ideas and big thoughts, hoping to make a difference in the world. To develop this, a writer should blog. Blogging is a great way to write consistently, articulate interests and meet like-minded people.
Develop your voice through your personality.
Those of us who are sensors have a way of viewing the world that those of us who are feelers. Some of us crave order and logic while others are more spontaneous. Then there are those who wear their hearts on their sleeves and share their deepest secrets with the world around them. These differences make the world go around. A reader can’t help seeing the personality of an author in the books he reads. To develop this, it would hurt a writer to study personality types, like the MBTI test, to understand the differences in others. (I’m an ENFJ, so it makes perfect sense that I don’t like to write about conflicts and I like to encourage others.)
Develop your voice with practice.
A masterful writer will have spent time understanding the basics of good grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They will understand the purposes of story structure. They will have thoughtfully considered word choice and structure. Writing is an art and a craft. I personally appreciate a well-disciplined, well-trained author voice. To develop this, writers should always be reading and studying. Good writers should have a varied literary diet and soak up the voices of other writers. This will make a difference in their writing.
Develop your voice with feedback.
No writer will ever know how to improve unless someone points out what needs fixing. Critique groups, beta readers, a writing buddy, and classes are all ways in which writers can learn more about who they are. With good instruction and practice, a writer can grow in confidence. But this is risky, writing programs are often shaping all writers to sound the same. It takes a courageous, hard-working writer to know what advice to keep and what to discard. Writing is a craft and an art. The art part is the essence of a writer’s voice.
A voice of an author is something that is completely unique to them yet it is malleable and changeable with the needs of the book. An author’s voice is the hidden force behind the voice of the characters, the narrative and the description. It must follow the rules yet have good judgment about when to break them. The voice of the author is often the creative and poetic touches in what is merely sentences and paragraphs. Yet, these sentences and paragraphs come from years of practice and diligence.
Your words can sing too. Through your own practice, personality and passion, you can have a unique writer’s voice that many readers will be drawn to.