Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Writer’s voice is one of those topics that many writers find confusing. And that isn’t surprising because it is fairly abstract. It is easy to see if your sentence has a subject and verb.

But how can you tell if your writing reflects your voice?

The first step is understanding what voice is. Voice is how you sound.  Voice in writing is made up of the specific words you use and the way you combine them into sentences and paragraphs. Do you use mostly simple sentences?  Or do you put together sentences that use a lot of phrases and clauses?  Or maybe fragments.  All of these things will influence your voice – how your writing sounds.

You develop your voice by writing a lot.  It will come through in your word choices and the examples you use.  It is what makes you sound like you.  It is why I could tell whenever one particular editor made changes in my work.  The voice was never quite right.

Years ago when I made my first serious attempt at fiction, I was drafting a fantasy novel. While I was working on my novel, I could not read fantasy. If I did, my voice would slide and change. Eventually my writing sounded a lot like whoever I was reading.

I recently realized that I no longer have that problem. This year I’ve worked on both a cozy mystery and a middle grade science fiction novel. I have read so many books and many of them have been cozies or science fiction. And I just realized that I never had a problem falling into someone else’s voice. I had found my own.

If you still aren’t sure about voice, listen to audiobooks. Not one or two either. Listen to one when you wash the dishes or fold laundry. Listen to your favorite authors and listen to what makes one different from another. Perhaps one is lyrical and the other earthy. Now record your own writing. You can do it. Just make a video on your phone. Then listen to it. What is it that makes you sound like you?

Listen and write. Write and read. Then write some more. Word by word, you are building your confidence and your voice.

–SueBE