Monday, September 26, 2016

Finding a Writing "Voice"

Every good author has a memorable and influential voice.

A good example of an author with a strong voice is Mark Twain, who, while not one of my favorite authors, has a very distinctive voice in his writing that not only is very memorable, but also contributes a lot to his characters.

Now it's one thing to read a great book with a unique and poetic voice, but it's another thing entirely to write with good voice.

Image result for mark twain

I've written short stories before, and my fiction writing style in the past has been very "telling, not showing" which is honestly the opposite of what it's supposed to be, and my nonfiction writing style (i.e. all my blog posts) are kind of wordy and rambly.

When writing a novel, it's very important to establish a strong and consistent voice early on.  I'm trying to do that within my own story, but it is really a challenge.

Normally when I write a draft, I kind of ignore my voice until I am more familiar with what the character is going to be like and then I try and go back and change words to fit said character.  This hasn't really worked well for me in the past, because I look back at the mounds of draft I have written and get really discouraged--I hate editing.

Image result for writing voice gif
My previous strategy for writing was just to randomly type thoughts.
This time around, I have done months of pre-writing, and I feel comfortable with my character's personality.  I think that I will be able to convey what she's like in the story right off the bat and start writing with voice that I want in the story.

Which brings me to my next problem.

I really, really, really, (and I mean really, really, really) adore Jane Austen's writing in Pride and Prejudice.  Everything is simultaneously witty and clever but poetic and heartfelt at the same time.  And her vocabulary--it's dreamlike.  So I really want to kind of try my hand at writing like her.

Image result for jane austen setting unrealistic expectations
Not only unrealistic expectations about romance, but writing ability also.


There's a reason Jane Austen is renowned as such a great writer--it's not easy to write like her!

I think I've kind of achieved what I want for the first part of my novel so far, but it's getting harder to maintain such a fancy voice and one I don't naturally come up with.

People have told me to write like I would speak, or to do what's natural to me, but I honestly don't enjoy reading books that sound just like I do regularly, and I don't like writing them that way either.

How do you find your writing voice?  Do you have one??


  1. I have a few different writing voices- and it really depends on the book and the POV character I'm doing. For my fantasy books I like to maintain a pretty casual tone without sounding too modern or informal. For my books that take place in the modern world, I use a similar voice but with more modernisms. If the story is told from a character's specific perspective, my writing becomes more like their internal thoughts, and that's by far the most casual my writing ever gets. For my fairy tales, I use a much more flowery, expositional voice, simply because of the nature and style of fairy tales themselves.
    The best way I've found to develop a specific voice is to find something that's written in a similar style and read the heck out of it. Once I get used to thinking in that voice, I try my own hand at it. I'll write short stories and drabbles that may or may not ever be published just to practice using it. Then when I want to write a novel's worth of it, I'm all ready!

    1. Hmm, yes I can see how a voice may change depending on genre; interesting.
      Oh yes, I would not be opposed to reading and rereading Pride and Prejudice :D
      Thanks for your tips!

  2. I would also have to say that for my writing voice it depends on what I'm writing but for all intensive purposes I'll say fantasy books.
    When I'm Fantasy I just let the words flow out say what I want to say and edit later, because then I don't forget what I'm going to say and also I for my stories I like to make sound like a story. Not a story like a book story, but like someone is verbally telling this story to a group of people.

    p.s my first legit comment hope the "typical" format was good!

    1. Yeah, I like how your story sounds like an orally told tale: it gives it a sort of legendary and ancient feeling, like something truly historical. Thanks for your input :)