Read a paragraph from one of your favourite novel writer – then do the same with another.
Can you tell the difference between the two?
I like science fiction and Iain Banks is a favourite. I also like John Grisham novels when I’m on a transatlantic flight. the two writing styles are very different irrespective of the US/UK spellings.
The difference is their voice.
It may seem strange to ask if you have a voice as a writer – after all you are not speaking.
I am naturally a sarcastic, play the Phillistine type of individual – I always look for the twisted meaning in a conversation but there is no malice – I just like the play with words, and most of all, the humour in a conversation. I’m also in my prime – mid forties, solvent, travelled and experienced in life – sounds like an ad in a dating site profile, but this is correct and is reflected in my writing. Cavalier, sometimes off-hand and slightly jaded but with a glint in my eye and as has been noted already, I don’t really care what other people think about me (or my writing).
Your writer’s voice will depend a lot on your own character, but how you are in a crowd is not necessarily the real you. I know people who are very deeply intelligent, deeply sensitive to the extent that they will cry listening to Beethoven but to the world at large, they are hard as nails. On the other hand, I also know people who look like they would not say boo to a goose but in fact are deeply adventurous and without fear.
When you are writing, no-one need know what your public persona is – you are free to be who and what you really are. How your true personality comes through in your writing gives you your writer’s voice – serious, droll, witty, boring, technical, exciting and the adjectives can just go on and on.
Why is having a writer’s voice important?
Ask yourself this question – what makes John Grisham different from the legions of wannabe legal fiction writers? What makes Iain Banks different from the hordes of sci-fi wannabe’s?
Sure their ideas and plots are great, but no-one has a monopoly on ideas; it is how they tell their story, word for word, that holds the reader and makes them popular and commercially successful. In short, it is their voice – develop yours and let the real you come through. In this respect, we can look at a writer’s voice as being the relationship with their readers, probably to such an extent that without ever hearing your real voice, a reader will be able to look at your writing and say “That’s so and so!”
Your writer’s voice is what will make you different from the crowd and eminently readable.