Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of great material out there detailing how to find your writer’s voice. That distinguishable and authentic thing that makes your writing you. In cases of superb writing, a distinguishable voice can likely catapult or sink a writer. A material’s genre (especially in fiction), structure, quality, and appeal matter immensely, and some may even argue that these factors are more important than the “stamp” of a writer’s voice in finding writing success (which is defined differently by virtually all writers). Writing, though, is an art, not just a business of selling. The marketability of a piece of work is one thing; the uniqueness and individuality of that work is what helps it stand out among its peers. In many cases, a writer’s voice is what builds fans or followers.

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A. Alvarez’s book The Writer’s Voice has some great little gems in it, illustrating how voice can help writers–and authors–find and define their audience. He breaks out the difference between “voice” and “style,” helping the reader–and writer–understand the differences with clarity. I also stumbled upon a great blog by Cori Padgett, where she talks a little about the purpose of writing and pointing out the importance of utilizing your quirks as a writer.

Here are some simple things that worked for me while writing my first novel, The Silent Partner. I’m sure that I’ll continue to refine my voice through future work. If you have tactics that have worked for you, please share!

  • Write and therefore rewrite. Find out what works for you, in style and substance. Challenge yourself, but if you write often about something you love, you’ll develop a unique presence on the page.
  • Structure your story before you write it, so you can clear your head of concerns of structure as you plow forward. (There are many theories on story structure. In a previous blog, I spoke of my favorite, John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story.) In this way, your individuality can come through without any “rules” binding you down.
  • Be your interesting self. Write about what matters to you. If something pivotal is missing, it will come up with rewrites and editing. And editors! When you can dig into yourself and find those moments that mattered to you or someone else, and you can channel them into a character or story (the writer version of what actors do, I suppose), great moments can happen on the page. And those moments are all you. (Great time to cue The Greatest Love of All.)

If you’ve found other ways to enhance your writing voice, please let me know about them! And good luck, my friends.

“The Silent Partner”: Why I’m Bringing My Unpublished Manuscript to Life

Five years ago, the idea for the book first made its way onto computer screen. The first two and a half years I was on my own, discovering and writing. It would take a couple years for a first draft (that no one shall ever see, it was so bad). Over the next year and a half, my book editor, Wendy, assisted with multiple drafts while I attempted to turn the story into something people would want to read. Big discovery came here, too, along with humble pie and the revelation that I had no idea what I was doing. But quitting wasn’t an option. Too much time had been invested, and I’d learned resiliency years ago. It was time to learn how to write, and not fool myself that I already knew how. It didn’t matter how many writing books I had read or how many A’s I’d received in college studies. I now studied feverishly, unlike I’d ever studied anything before. (My college professors would surely be irate if they knew I had ignored such capacity to expand while in their classes.) The Silent Partner eventually emerged from an idea and poorly written story into a crafted and structured novel that, hopefully, will be read.

I had never heard of book trailers until about ten months ago, when Wendy said I should look into them, given my background and affection for film. Completing the manuscript had led to the additional challenge–and fortune–of finishing the book trailer to promote it. Now, with a number of agency rejections to back my claim up that my manuscript does indeed exist, soon the launch of the book trailer will showcase the book in a new medium. All in the effort to have a new voice and bring attention to the source material, acquire agency representation, and–more importantly–get The Silent Partner published.

The solitude of writing, rewriting, editing, revising, throwing away, and starting over again . . . gave way to collaboration with a team and crew of artists–from a number of disciplines–to bring The Silent Partner to life. Filmmakers–from a cinematographer to writers and directors–and actors, a producer-pal and location scout, a film editor and special effects pro, a composer, a band, a sketch artist, and book designer (to assist with the promo “cover” of the book). Many of them now friends.

What an incredible array of talents . . . all bound together for a book that no one yet knows exists.