I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and blog posts on voice. As in, how to find yours, develop your own recognizable style. Most of these posts talk about writing lots and lots as the most sure-fire method to finding your voice. So true!
- Follow the Rules, but Don’t Let Them Drown You. When writers attempt to master skills, their unique voices are often beaten out of them. By paying such careful attention to rules, you risk sounding just like everyone else. Some rules, such as the ones in Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, deserve our attention. Others, like not ever using sentence fragments might be broken for a good reason.
- No Smoking Materials. Your unique voice loses impact the more you use generic or abstract terms. While you might be sensitive about saying “cigarette” twice in the same sentence, a reader will be more apt to follow a character who gets MORE specific (say, using a brand name or “smoke” in place of cigarette) than one who uses stilted or impersonal terms. “He lit his smoking materials and leaned back in his seating apparatus.” Sounds terrible! Not that any of you smoke these days, but you get the idea.
- Know Your Reader. I once had a fabulous writer tell me that for every book he writes, he makes a mental panel of 12 jurists–people he’d like more than any others to read and enjoy his work. He constantly refers to this panel, weighing his writing against these judges. If you are very certain of your audience, you know what your readers love, what turns them off, what makes them beg for more. If you are passionate about your writing, this will lead to your voice.
Next: More Tips on Developing Your Writer’s Voice.