photo © 2006 Udo Schröter | more info (via: Wylio)
One of the easiest things to identify in someone else's writing, and yet the most difficult to quantify in our own writing is voice.
Often writers agonize over finding their voice. Will I know it when I find it? What if I never find it? What if, when I find my voice, I realize it isn't unique?
Whew...that's a lot to angst about, and nothing steals your joy as a writer and camouflages your voice like angsty-worry.
First, let's define voice.
Writer's voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice was generally considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). The definition came from HERE.
It takes time to find your voice, but once you do, you'll have it rock-solid. One thing new writers need to realize is: You cannot find your true voice before you master the basics of fiction writing craft. Until you're comfortable with point-of-view, dialogue, narration, setting, etc. focus on those things. Voice will come after you've become grounded with the basics.
So, here are three tips to finding your voice:
1. Relax. Clear voice shines through when you're relaxed and just let the words and story flow. Voice happens when you're not forcing it, when you're letting the words roll out without worrying about voice.
2. Read widely, and critique for people, because often you will be able to discern another person's voice before you can discern your own. However, identifying other people's voices helps you identify your own. Meg Cabot doesn't sound like Dick Francis, and Elizabeth Peters doesn't sound like Alice Sebold. Each of these writers has a distinct voice, and so do you.
3. Write. A lot. I didn't discover my voice (and actually, someone else told me when I'd finally found it) until I had written several novels. When I go back to the first one I wrote, I can see a few sprouts of my voice amid all the compost I was throwing around, but by the time I had written four novels, my voice had become clear. When I reread my own work after being away from it for awhile, I often find myself thinking "I should put 'this' in somewhere." only to find that a few lines later, I put that very thing in. My voice was natural, the thought processes, the experiences, the vocabulary all mesh together to make my writing sound different from anyone else's.
So, have you found your voice? Has anyone ever told you your voice sparkles?