31. Find Your Voice - Part 2

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Finding one's voice is not a requirement for good writing, but it helps. A good story can stand on its own, but a good voice will make it memorable. In my opinion, it's what pushes a reader from "like" to "love."

So how do you find your writing voice? Here are some suggestions I've found that might help you:

Describe yourself in three adjectives. For example, I might say I'm clever, genuine, and sometimes snarky. Our personalities are complex and nuanced, but forcing ourselves to only select three words helps to boil it down to the bare basics. It's easier to get our writing to reflect three adjectives than an entire personality.

Write how you talk. One of the easiest ways for "voicey" writing is to simply type the way you talk. My brain tends to spew thoughts in spurts, so you'll find lots of sentence fragments in my work. I find it very suitable for writing young adult stories, so I stick with it. (Tangent: I write how I talk in my head. For some reason, my mouth does a poor job of expressing my thoughts, so what actually comes out is never as great as how it sounds in my head.)

Study your favorite books and blogs. Think about the stories that you've enjoyed most, or the bloggers that you love to follow. We often admire the thing we want to be. What is it about the writings of these other people you like most? How do they convey their ideas? Do you see yourself writing that way?

Does it feel like work? If it feels like pulling teeth trying to write a certain way, then maybe you weren't meant to write that way. I'm not saying you can't, but if it doesn't feel natural to you, then that probably isn't your voice.

Note that when I say "your voice" here in this chapter, it can be interchangeable with "your character's voice". When trying to nail down your character's voice, try describing that character in three adjectives, and think about how this person speaks. Then try to capture those things in words as you write the story from that character's perspective.

Additional note about voice: Many best-selling authors have kind of a bland voice. This probably helps their stories appeal to a broader audience. With this in mind, it's okay if your story isn't "voicey". But like I said in the first paragraph, many stories that I've liked have very little voice, but my all-time favorites--the stories that I love--drip with voice.

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