Posted by: nancycurteman | July 9, 2010

Author’s Voice: How to find it?

All writers agree they want to find their own unique voice. But—what is this nebulous thing called voice and how does an author develop it? Voice is elusive. One might say it develops itself. One thing we know, voice develops from writing and writing and more writing.

Authorial voice and character voice are closely connected. A writer’s voice is usually embedded in the way a point-of-view character speaks, thinks and most important in his attitude. If the character is a redneck bigot with a large repertoire of hates, his voice should show it. If the character is a college-educated liberal with hippie leanings, his voice should show it. Authors need a strong, unique writing voice. But don’t allow your author’s voice to be so strong and distinctive that all your characters sound alike. Character voices will be unique if the author is intimately acquainted with each one and listens to them speak.

It’s important to understand that early on in a writing career an author’s developing voice already exists in his/her writing. Here’s how to find it: Read your own writing. When you come to a sentence or phrase that feels perfect, you’ve found your natural voice. It may not have reached its fullest potential, but it’s there. Try to determine what you love about that sentence. Don’t try to copy it, just let it sink into your unconscious. It will appear again without planning. Conversely, when you read a sentence or phrase that leaves you cold, it’s not your voice. Try to determine why it seems so flat. Then avoid repetition of it. This two-step process will raise your awareness of what works and what doesn’t and will eventually allow your unique voice to emerge.

Focus on your characters and your story; your voice will come.

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Responses

  1. Great post, Nancy!

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    • Thank you. Coming from you, that is a nice compliment indeed.

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  2. Your posts are very helpful to me Nancy Curteman. You have a way of being very precise about what you talk about and the distinctions you make are excellent and allow me to ‘understand’, sometimes for the first time. Thank you. (Like the idea that the voice – develops!

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  3. Thank you, Loreen. I’m so glad my posts are helpful. I enjoy writing them and I reinforce my own understanding of the basic concepts I write about as well.

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  4. Good points.I am going to reblog this if you don’t mind and also pass it on to my critique group. Thanks. 🙂

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    • Thanks for the reblog. I hope writers will find the piece helpful in their efforts to discover their own unique voice.

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  5. […] All writers agree they want to find their own unique voice. But—what is this nebulous thing called voice and how does an author develop it? Voice is elusive. One might say it develops itself. One thing we know, voice develops from writing and writing and more writing. Authorial voice and character voice are closely connected. A writer’s voice is usually embedded in the way a point-of-view character speaks, thinks and most important in his attitud … Read More […]

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  6. Goethe says, Trust yourself and you will know how to live.

    Nancy says, Trust yourself and you will know how to write.

    Excellent advice!

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  7. Great advice, thanks Nancy!

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  8. Great advice Nancy, thanks for posting it.

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  9. Thanks for the comment.

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  30. It’s funny, I started writing in grade 8 and through reading one person’s particular books I began to sound and write like them subconsciously.

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    • I’m curious. Who was the author you began to sound like?

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