Becoming familiar with your writing voice is a journey of discovery. And as you travel that journey, who you are as a person will be etched in the road ahead. As you negotiate each bend and curve, hill and valley you will uncover the quirks and characteristics of your personality.
BY JUNE TERRY
What is your Writer’s Voice?
If you tell a novice writer that their voice is beginning to show, they are bound to offer a quizzical glance before asking what you mean by voice. They will wonder how a voice can emerge from paper. Reasonable questions no doubt. But the answer is not always clear cut.
If you are writing from your gut your voice should ooze from the lines, from every sentence, every phrase and every word that floods a page. A voice is individual and unique to every writer, just like their fingerprints and their DNA. Just as the traits of your personality are evident when you speak, they should also radiate from your writing.
Roy Peter Clark in Tools for Writers believes that “Voice is the sum of all strategies used by the author to create the illusion that the writer is speaking directly to the reader from the page”.
How to find your unique Writer’s Voice
The task of identifying your own voice becomes easier once you understand the concept. You are the only one to possess the intimate knowledge of your own personality. You may have a wacky sense of humour and have a desire to make people laugh. Or you may be the studious type who analyses every last detail to death. Characteristics like this should show through in your writing.
The words on the paper reflect the vision of who you are and how you see the world. You know when you write a piece of copy, it contains all your words and phrases, but the test is to ensure it doesn’t lack your innate character.
Encourage someone to read a sample of your writing. Can they identify your character, your personality and be in no doubt that you’re the author of the piece?
Blogger Jeff Goins shares his 10 Steps to finding your writing voice.
How to develop your Writer’s Voice
Practise, practise and practise some more… Developing your writer’s voice is a continuing process. A tui warbling in the treetops achieves throaty perfection through its daily birdsong. Your writing voice can achieve equal perfection through consistent and ongoing practise.
In the words of Stephen King, “The best way to develop your writer’s voice is to read a lot and write a lot. There’s really no other way to do it”.
Basic tips for Writer’s Voice development
o People watch – exercise your writer’s voice by observing and analysing people in different settings. Imagine what their character is like from their body language.
o Be devoted to paying attention to yourself – think about what excites you, what annoys you and what traits make you a unique individual.
o Unleash your creativity – lay bare your voice and never stifle your creativity by editing on the go. Let your words flow until you can no longer draw new substance from your thoughts
o Consider you audience – talk to them in your writing like you are having a discussion with them. Anticipate their response and talk to those points as you would in conversation.
o Read your posts aloud to yourself or to someone else if they’ll listen. If the flow is craggy and jagged, your natural writing voice is missing.
About the Author
June Terry’s writing career began by entering essay competitions at primary school and winning two that she remembers. In her twenties she studied freelance journalism, had several travel articles published, and for a time reported for a small Bay of Plenty weekly newspaper. With the arrival of babies, she was obligated to get a real job earning real money. June’s writing has taken a back seat until her recent retirement awoke the hibernating writer within. June is based in Auckland, New Zealand.
Photo credit: Pelicans, Márcio Cabral de Moura