Hello Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
It’s Writer Wednesday, the day each week we talk about writing tips and tricks for authors whether self-published or traditional and today I want to talk to you about VOICE.
You’ve probably heard of “author voice” before, but if you’re anything like me, it’s a confusing concept at first.
Everyone tells you that as a writer you need to find your voice. But what IS voice? How can an author know what their voice is supposed to be? How does one go about finding it?
The most common advice is just to keep writing and this isn’t bad advice. If you write, and write as well as you can, and write a LOT, you WILL find your voice.
It may take you a hundred thousand words or it may take you two million, but you WILL find your voice eventually if you just keep writing.
However, much like the fact that you can wander a town endlessly and eventually find your friend’s house but a map will help make that journey shorter, the length of time it requires to find your voice can be reduced a whole lot if you know WHAT you’re looking for.
Your voice is HOW you write. Sounds simple. Really isn’t.
There’s more to writing than your vocabulary and knowing sentence structure because the same idea can be communicated an infinite number of ways.
That’s why I can tell you that two dogs ran happily through the park or I can say a pair of noble and glorious canines frolicked with joy as their course took them through a large outdoor garden whose flowers shone like beacons in the sun.
A lot of people obsessed with Hemingway would tell you the second one is way too wordy, but tell that to Charles Dickens, because he could write one sentence about those two mutts that would take up this entire four-minute video.
Some people say that fantasy should only be written in verse like Tolkien’s, large and epic and hearkening back to the first stories ever written in English, but tell that to Brandon Sanderson, whose characters speak in dialogue so familiar it’s almost modern, while George R. R. Martin falls in between.
Any sentence can be expressed an infinite number of ways, and the way you generally choose to express YOURself, is your voice.
Now when you start off, your voice will be inconsistent. Sometimes you will write one way and sometimes another. But as you write, you learn how you LIKE to write, and you start to write that way more and more.
The ways of expressing yourself that AREN’T your voice start to fade away, and soon you’re left with the pure, undistilled essence of YOU.
That’s why people tell you to just keep writing and you’ll find your voice, but you can speed up the process by analyzing your own writing and deciding: how do I think I ought to say this?
Because voice is a choice. Hemingway didn’t write his short clipped sentences free from flowery prose and dialogue because that was the rule: he did it because that’s how he thought it sounded best.
And Dickens didn’t write sentences so long they took up entire pages because he didn’t know what a period was. He knew full well what a period was, and he threw it out the window in favor of commas and more than a few dozen semicolons.
Tolkien grew up living and breathing and osmosing the great epic poems that were part of the foundation of the English language, and he decided that if he were going to write his own stories, they’d be told in the style of Beowulf, if not the same language.
What’s more, you can have different voices, a thousand of them in fact. Do you think I write my epic fantasy the same way I write my modern sci-fi thrillers?
No! They share similarities of course because I’m still me, but they’re two different ways of talking. They’re like dialects.
If you’re looking for it, you can begin to recognize your voice, and that’s what voice is all about: recognition.
You show me a page of Chuck Palahniuk and I can tell you it’s him, even more clearly than if you showed me his face or played a tape of him speaking. The voice of an author, once honed and perfected, is as unique and unmistakable as their fingerprint.
Find what makes your writing unique, what makes it uniquely yours, the way you think everybody else ought to be writing anyway, and when you find that, you’ve found your voice as an author.
Hope that helps, Rebels. I want to give a shout out to my supporters on Patreon, who make all my YouTube endeavors possible. They’re awesome people, and if you want to join them, click the Patreon link in the description.
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye.