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Basics | Voice

In order to become a writer you need to develop an ear for the language and hone your instincts when it comes to plot, pacing, story arc, everything that goes into a good book. Other writers can give you ideas about what is important and what to keep in mind. But the only way those things begin to come automatically is practice, patience and perseverance.

Once these things become second nature something else will be bubbling to the surface. Something as necessary as all the other bits and the ultimate reason no one can teach you how to write. You begin to develop your voice.

What is a voice? it is your unique style, not just how you craft a sentence, but the kinds of ideas you express, the timing, everything that makes your writing unique to you. And it is literally impossible to teach you how to do this, because it is the big “this is what works for me.”

To learn your voice you need to experiment. For a while everything you write will sound like garbage, then it will sound like someone else, several someones in fact. You will copy your influences, your stories will be subconscious rip-offs. You can only get to the good stuff by pushing through. It sucks but every writer worth his salt has gone through the exact same process.

I discovered I needed multiple voices. Three for different kinds of fiction, one for articles like this, and one for my blog. I had a lot of growing pains when it came to public posts. Like the rest only practice could help me figure out what I say and how I say it. Which could be a little embarrassing when I struck out in the wrong direction. Fortunately most writing was done in private so only my several attempts at a blog revealed my inconsistent style.

I tried to be too neutral, I tried to be too combative, I tried to think of every angle until I froze. Then one day the magic worked and all of a sudden I could slip into blog mode and spit out something that reflected what I’m really like - eventually.

Writing reveals a lot more than we realize. We don’t think about it often because it would probably stop us in our steps. But how you say what you say is the reflection of who you are. And we can’t really put a finger on who we are, thus you can’t really put a finger on voice. You just have to know.


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