If you do a lot of online networking, you’ll notice that everyone, whether they know it or not, has his or her own distinctive voice. Read the profiles here on WritingRoom.com. You’ll find a diverse group of people who express themselves using the written word in a way that directly reflects their personalities.
Your voice is your style. It’s your trademark. If you blog or keep a journal, you may have already established a strong voice. The trick is to leverage that one-of-a-kind personality to suit your storytelling. It can take writers years to find a distinctive voice. But the exploration is well worth the investment. Once you define your voice, you can employ it with purpose and consistency to stand apart on the bookshelves.
Hemingway was the master at establishing a consistent, very exclusive style. His short, succinct sentences often carried more power than pages of monologue. This style was perfectly appropriate to his subject matter, which often depicted dramatic scenes and curt conclusions. A successful writer uses a style that is aligned with his or her preferred genre. Keep that in mind as you read the following tips to help uncover the unique characteristics of your voice.
1. Take inventory on your reading material. You may not realize it, but what you read directly impacts how you write. If you lean toward pop culture, you’ll likely write light, informal prose. If you’re a non-fiction fan, you may be more dramatic and matter of fact.
2. Follow your instincts. Write where your feelings take you. Many of the best works are written “in the moment” when the writer is truly in touch with his or her inner self. Readers can often tell if you’re faking it. Don’t hold back; connect with your readers by giving them all the genuine emotion you’ve got.
3. Write like you speak. This can be tricky business. Most times, you’re writing to fit the character in a style that is your own. Still, to ensure that your style shines through, it helps to start your first draft in your voice and adapt it to the story as necessary.
4. Try other styles on for size. Here’s a quick writing exercise to help you experience other styles, which may help you to find your own. Write a basic, one-page scene about a family having a picnic in the park. Now, write the same scene five more times, imagining that you’re writing through the minds of: a 10-year old girl, a teenage boy, a single mother, a retired war veteran and someone who’s your age, but the opposite gender. Now take a step back and notice the common themes and distinctive tones of each. Note the differences in your original draft.
5. Write, review and repeat. Once you’ve written a bulk of work, whether it be a journal, short story collection or book of poems, take a step back, then revisit it after some time has passed. Notice, in retrospect, the unique characteristics of your writing. Is the language straightforward or filled with description? How do the words flow together? Do sentence structures have a pattern? The answers to these questions can help you pinpoint the stylistic characteristics that will get you noticed.