Your writing voice includes your style and tone in writing. It’s what makes readers into fans and leads those fans to buy and read more of your books.
Do you have a strong writing voice? If you’re working on developing or finding your writing voice, or just want to clarify and make it stronger, here are 10 steps to get you there.
Read, read, read, read. You can’t create in a vacuum. To develop your own writing voice, you need input from other writers. So keep reading!
2. Write down 5 adjectives that describe yourself as a writer.
Are you funny? Deep? Conversational? Sarcastic? Dramatic? You may find that the books you love can help reveal your writing voice, since those voices not only resonate best with you, they also influence who you are and how you write.
3. What writers do you love?
Step 1 leads us right into into step 2. How do the writers you love write? Are they funny or serious? Matter-of-fact or whimsical? Write down at least 5 adjectives that describe the voices of your favorite writers.
Also note other aspects of their writing voice. What is their rhythm of writing? Do they use a lot of imagery? Do they move the story along through mainly dialog or prose?
4. Ask others to describe you as a writer.
What adjectives do your family and friends use to describe your writing? Are they similar to the adjectives you chose for yourself? If they are, why are they different?
5. Write down why you write.
Brainstorm why you write. Do you write to educate people? Motivate them? Inspire them? Make them laugh? Keep them in suspense? Provide entertainment to help them escape from their hard lives? Do you write because you love it? Why do you love it? In short, why do you write?
6. Write down who you are writing for.
What is your audience like? Age range? Interests? Personality? Likes? Dislikes?
The best way to develop your writing voice is to practice, practice, practice. There are a few great ways to do this:
- Rewrite published stories in your own words: You can use a story you know and love, or you can get a book of short stories, read one, and then rewrite it. Either way, read the story once, and then rewrite it without consulting the original; the details you do remember will demonstrate what matters to you personally, which is important in developing your writing voice.
- Rewrite published stories with a different perspective: Take a story you know well, such as a fairy tale, and rewrite it from a different character’s perspective.
- Write an original short story: Keep in mind your audience, your reason for writing, and the adjectives you used to describe your writing in mind as you write.
- Rewrite your short story from a different POV: Now take your story and rewrite it from a different point of view. If you originally wrote in 3rd person, try writing in 1st person. You could use an omnipotent voice. Or switch to a narrator point of view. Maybe tell the story through a series of journal entries. Just write it differently than you originally did—even better if you write from a point of view you don’t usually write in.
8. Review your stories.
Now take a look at the practice stories you’ve written. What is the tone in those stories? Sarcastic? Informative? Conversational? Humorous? Dark? Is there a common thread in tone among them? Does the tone match the adjectives you or others used to describe you as a writer?
What point of view did you write in? If you wrote in different points of view, which one felt more natural to write in? Which one is more interesting to read?
Do you tend to write longer or shorter sentences? Does the sentence structure and flow feel natural or forced? If it feels forced, how could you rewrite it to be more natural?
For the rewritten stories, what did you change or add? Did you tend to sympathize with the villain or the hero? Did you focus more on the world building? Did you turn your attention more to character development? How did you write it differently?
Did your practice stories fulfill your purpose for writing? If you intend to entertain or inform, did they? If they don’t fulfill your purpose for writing, why didn’t they?
Would your stories interest your target audience? Did you enjoy rereading them? Does a friend who fits your target audience like them? How would friends describe the tone and style of those stories?
9. Make adjustments.
If you found disparities between what you actually wrote with your practice stories and how you and others describe you as an author, or your reason for writing, or your audience, then it’s time to adjust. This may mean becoming more aware of how you actually write and changing the adjectives you use to describe your writing, or adjusting your audience. Or you may find that you’re hiding behind a mask when writing and you need to get more vulnerable and show your true self to find your writing voice. If that is the case, the way to make adjustments is to continue to practice with your true goals in mind.
10. Practice more!
Whether or not your perceptions and your actual writing match, you need to keep practicing! If you have disparities to work out, then adjust by keeping your true goals in mind when writing; afterwards, ask yourself if the writing flows better and reads better with those adjustments.
You’ll likely find that staying true to your writing voice does not start out being easy, because it requires you to truly reveal yourself to any who read your writing.
How did you find your writing voice? How would you describe it? Or are you still finding it? Let us know in the comments below!