Everyone has a voice. It's beautiful, it's unique and it
is distinctly yours. If someone reads your book or article or poetry, or hears your song, and recognizes who wrote it, often it is because of your distinct voice.
What do we mean when we say a writer has a distinct voice? What does it mean to have a voice when you write?
Because you already have your own voice, your task is to bring it to the forefront and be who you are.
Enjoying someone’s style and being inspired by the voice of another writer is a good thing, but trying to copy someone else’s voice doesn’t work.
I love Erma Bombeck’s voice – I read her work a lot and I found that my most comfortable style was similar to hers. I call her voice - comfortable and inviting. That is totally what I want my writing to be.
I also like E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web - I call his writing gentle, descriptive writing. I think of Mr. White’s style as I write picture books or magazine articles for children.
I call Robert Munsch’s work – dramatic and loud writing. This style isn’t for everyone but in this bing, bing, world of high-tech stimulation and interaction, this style of writing goes over well with young people.
There are so many different voices in writing. Many are familiar with Louis L’Amour - the western writer? Think how his voice is vastly different than Stephen King's – the king of horror.
Emily Post, if you recall, has more old style, refined writing. There is a certain expectation with her writing. We anticipate finesse and good manners.
Remember Ann Voskamp’s new book – 1000 Gifts? She is a vulnerable and generous writer. Her voice implores the reader to share her pain and her purpose.
What do we think about when we think of Agatha Christie for example? Jane Goodall? The Junie B. Jones series? Veggie Tales? Amelia Bedelia? O Henry? Funny how we might not remember the details of a story but we can well remember their style and voice. Style and voice both help define you as a writer and they set you apart from other authors.
Beginning writers don’t necessarily have a defined voice when first starting out, although it does begin to come naturally the more a person writes. It is essential for even a beginning writer to be aware of word flow. If you are trying to copy someone, the river [of words] doesn’t flow as well as those words that follow the natural curves of your very own voice.
Here are some ideas and suggestions for finding your Voice and defining your Style. Give them a try and you might just be surprised how your voice sounds on paper:
1. Write! Write everything. Try your hand at writing. You will learn from the experience even though your work might not be sent out or used anywhere. Hard work and self-discovery opens eyes2. Pray. Ask God what He wants you to do with your writing?3. Persist. Voice is born from a lot of words and a lot of work – rejection, refining, rewriting = reward!4. Don’t be afraid to play with word choice to enhance your distinct voice.5. Style is watching your use of adjectives and doing a few fantastic flashy things with alliteration so be true to yourself but apply literary devices to enhance your work.6. Consider that the voice is what the reader hears in your story and style is what the reader sees.
Book publishers and magazine editors are always looking for fresh voices and styles that speak to their readers. How are you going to share the unique voice God gave YOU?