• Ejuen Armstrong

Finding Your Voice in Writing

That x-factor in your writing that makes you recognisable

Ok, this is one of the elements of writing that may confuse some new writers and even help keep them out of the literary play pen.

But don't worry—your voice doesn't mean the gruff growl you give the local kids when they disturb you from your masterpiece. Or that whingy whining tone you use with your bank to re-extend your overdraft. Or whether you can sing the alto or the soprano, put down some rap beats or are great at acapella.

1. Find Your Writing Quirks

Sit down and list five or six stories you remember reading, and give a brief two-paragraph summary of each one. Leave it for a day or two, then go back and have a look at what you've written. You can do this as a rolling exercise each day. Finally, have someone else look at it and comment on your 'voice'.

The quickest way to find your voice is to write naturally

2. Look at Common Themes

What common themes do they hear in terms of presentation, style, emotions, running under the words? Are you wry, sardonic, humourous, dark, sober, flippant, light, verbiose?

Theoretically, your voice is that particular style of expression which apparently would allow a reader to know your work even if your name wasn't on it, and no matter what you wrote. I can't say I'm too sure about this for myself, unless they allow for the Multiple Personality Disorder voice. But if you're looking to find your voice, you should write everything, write anything, and write often.

The quickest way to find your voice is to write naturally. Write an unedited bit of news to a friend, a lover, or a colleague. Even better, to all three. Write a paragraph of advice to yourself.

Don't be afraid to express your deepest emotions.

3. Odelayee Who...?

Of course if you write in different genres, you may find that your voice varies somewhat. I took a brief on-line “I write like...” app by inputting a number of my stories and was astounded how many different writers it said I wrote like. Half of them were unknown to me, quite a few were dead, and most were men.

I'm still not sure whether to be proud of this range or slightly concerned. But then I remember that apps carry the personality of their designers, most of whom will have a narrow range of reference, e.g. white male writers, mainly European, Canadian or US. So my results could lack realistic parameters.. I'd say though, unless you're writing fan-fiction or a satirical piece, it's usually best to stick to how you would write naturally, instead of trying to emulate someone else.

4. Bring Out Your Deepest Emotions

Don't be afraid to express your deepest emotions. This doesn't mean that you start ranting about everything that makes you angry. Eventually, you’ll get a feel of your own tone in the stories.

This can help you when adding particular elements, be it humour, mystery passion, sadness to your tale. Fancy testing your voice here? Don't be shy—leave a comment!

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