We've all heard it. Agents and editors want to read an original voice in the manuscripts they request. Well, what does that mean, exactly? How do you find your voice?
Think about it this way. We all have different personalities, and it translates into our writing. We each have a unique writing style and voice, even if we don't know it.
When I started writing I had no clue what a "writing voice" was. I just wrote what I wanted to write and either hated it or loved it. Well, when I read through my books again, I realized I did have a voice. My writing has it's own style. It's own tone. It's kind of weird when you realize it. You sit there and think, "Where the heck is my voice," and it's been there right in front of you the whole time.
I think of it as using a little of your own personality in your books. Some of your own beliefs, hobbies, humor, personal observations or how you describe things, and of course, passion. So, here are a few ways to find your voice if you haven't found it already. :) I'm not an expert, so if you want to throw these ideas out the window or stomp on them, that's totally fine. Remember, I'm an aspiring author just like a lot of you guys. :)
1. Read, read, READ!! You cannot be a successful author if you don't read. At least in my opinion. It's great practice for writers to read books and notice the writing voice of the author. One thing I've found myself doing with my reading lately, is I notice more things. I pick out pacing and structure of the story. I can tell a good book from a poorly written one within the first few chapters. I find mistakes more often. While this sort of bugs me, it gives me ideas of things that are working or not working in my own WIP's. So, I say again ... READ! :) I do find that sometimes I have to read a book out of the genre I write before I work on my WIP at times. I don't want to copy the voice I'm reading. If that makes sense...
2. Try your hand at every genre you can. Sometimes you never know what you should write until you try. I started out writing adult contemporary and figured out my heart just wasn't into it. Then I looked at what I was reading. Young adult. I tried writing a YA fantasy and have been hooked ever since. Some people can write in several genres and are good at switching over, but I can't do it. I can write several genres within young adult though. But my drug of choice is mostly paranormal/urban fantasy. :)
3. Think about why you loved a certain book. Get into the authors head and try to figure out what drove her to write such an amazing story. If you can have that much passion for your own work, you'll fall in love with your book all over again and find things that can make it so much better.
4. Think about things that make you happy, things that scare you, etc. Putting real life fears and emotions into your manuscript add a ton to the voice and tone. I find when I write about a certain subject that I've actually experienced, my writing is stronger. You can tell when an author is trying too hard, but you can also tell when they know exactly what they are talking about. You can feel the emotions coming off the page. Love books like that.
5. Get to know your character inside and out. Know exactly what they'll do in a certain situation and the reason for doing it. It's hard to get so deep inside your character, especially if it's the villain or your book has a darker theme. But it will pay off in the end. The more you know your character, the more real he/she will be. The more they'll come alive on the page and the the reader will love your story even more.
6. You HAVE to care about what you're writing. If you don't, readers will be able to tell. Agents and editors will pick apart your story from the minute they sit down to read. If you don't care about the subject or your characters, why are you writing in the first place? You have to love them. Believe in them. Want them to be as real as can be. If you're writing in a genre just to follow the crowd and are hating every minute of it, you won't get very far in this industry. You don't have to follow everyone else. Write what you love in the genre you love. You'll be happier and your writing will show it.
7. Take risks. If you have an idea for a story that seems a little different than what you normally write, go for it! Even if your story will push your buttons or make you squirm a little, if it's calling your name, by all means, don't ignore it. I find the characters that talk to me the most and don't stop bugging me, are my best work. I have one WIP that is totally different from anything I've written, but I love it and think it has some of my best writing in it. I almost didn't write it, but I had to get it down. And once I did, the words just came.
8. Write what you love and never ever give up. I know I've wanted to stop in the middle of probably every one of my books. Sometimes I get this feeling that I'll never pull this writing thing off. People won't ever get what I'm trying to say with my books. Then I sit back and relax. Everyone goes through this. Every writer I know has had a point in every project that they lose hope and want to delete the whole thing. Don't do it. Keep writing. Your voice is there. The book is yours. Just keep practicing, write from your heart and let your story play out on its own.
What advice do you guys have about voice?