Finding Your Voice

Write what you know
Finding your voice

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Einstein

Finding your voice, as an author, can be the most difficult thing that you do. It requires your brutal honesty, fearlessness, and daring. Sounds dangerous, doesn’t it?

Do not confuse technique with voice. Technique is the structure of a story or of a sentence. How you manipulate that technique, that is your voice, that is your style.

Right now you are remembering every criticism and C+ you ever got in high school or university english classes. Forget it. (This is the be fearless part) Voice isn’t about being perfect, just perfectly you.

Can you judge a Monet against a De Vinci? Which one is better? Or can you say, “Wow. The Mona Lisa is awesome, and Water Lilies makes my heart turn over.”

Different Styles. Different Voices. Both amazing. But both absolutely meaningless to you when placed against a simple drawing done by your child that you have hung on the fridge. True voice has context and meaning to you – not to the person down the street.

If you try to write in a way that is similar to how someone you admire writes, this is not your voice. You are Monet, trying to paint the Mona Lisa.

So how do you find your voice as an author?
1) listen to your inner monologue as you write. If you find yourself constantly stopping to search for the next sentence, chances are you are not listening to your instincts. You are lying to yourself. If your instinct is to use the word ain’t instead of isn’t, then use it.
2) Record the conversations that you have with a friend (with their permission) so that you can pinpoint the rhythm of your speech patterns, the words you use, the idioms and slang. This is your voice.
3) Write your characters as they would be if they used your voice. A Medieval Knight wouldn’t use street slang, unless that is how the world in which he lives works.

You have heard the old saw, “Write what you know”. It isn’t referring so much to life experience as to your true voice. It is what you are comfortable with, and it is what you have spent a lifetime honing to perfection. You. Just You. That is your voice.
Good Luck and Happy Writing!

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