How To Find Your Voice in Writing

Many authors are recognizable from a single sentence: William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Ernest Hemingway, just to name a few. We know their work because they have a distinct author’s voice.

Likewise, there are many characters that are recognizable from a single piece of dialogue, like Atticus Finch, Sherlock Holmes, and Matilda Wormwood. They have a distinct character voice. You can just hear Sherlock say, “You know my methods, Watson.”

These two types of voice, along with the narrator’s voice, make up the tone and feel of every fiction book.

What Is the Definition of Voice in Writing? In literature, “voice” refers to the rhetorical mixture of vocabulary, tone, point of view, and syntax that makes phrases, sentences, and paragraphs flow in a particular manner. Novels can represent multiple voices: that of the narrator and those of individual characters.

What is writer’s voice?

What is the writer’s voice?

The writers voice is how a writer expresses themselves in a written work. Their voice can combine different elements, such as their personality, perspective, style or tone. They can also use particular words, phrases or punctuation to demonstrate their unique voice. For some writers, their voice on the page is very similar to how they speak in person. In fictional works, you may find the writers voice incorporated using third-person narration. Or you may see it in the message or perspective of the work itself.

What is a voice in writing?

Voice refers to the unique style, personality or perspective of a piece of writing. It can often set the mood or tone and varies on the author or the type of work they write. Literary voice incorporates many elements, including language, writing style, points of view and tone. Some authors may take a formal approach, while others use informal language. Or they use their voice to set a certain mood for the readers or persuade their feelings about something.

What is the character’s voice?

A characters voice refers to how a character in a literary work expresses themselves. Everyone has a unique way of speaking in life, and authors tend to reflect that by giving individual voices to their literary characters. Characters often have internal and external voices. Internal refers to their thoughts, while external refers to the words they speak aloud. Sometimes these voices are very similar, but not necessarily always.

Much like an authors voice, the characters voice incorporates elements of their personality. You can find playful characters who express themselves freely and use jokes or serious characters who speak very curtly or come across as cold to others. Characters voices will also differ based upon factors such as their age or background. A young person and an old person likely use very different language or colloquialisms, much like two characters from diverse geographic regions.

Types of character voice

Authors incorporate a variety of character voices into their work by using the following narration choices:

How to develop your voice in writing

Your writers voice should come naturally, as it reflects who you are and how you express yourself. The journey to finding your voice may vary, but you can use the following steps to help guide you:

1. Write often

Your voice is personal, and one of the most effective ways to find yours is to write as much as possible. Set time aside regularly to write anything you feel like writing. Writing in a journal may be an effective method for finding your voice, as it likely reflects how you speak in real life. Or you can let your mind wander and see what type of writing comes out. This approach may provide unexpected insights about yourself or your voice.

The more you write, the more comfortable you will feel writing. The practice will help improve your skills, and then you can stretch your abilities by using new techniques or styles. As you experiment, you can discover your writing preferences. However, you should keep trying new things—if you primarily write non-fiction pieces, try writing a fictional short story. You may find that your voice changes depending on the type of content you write.

2. Read others work

Seek out authors whose writing you enjoy reading. Think about what you appreciate about their voice and find ways to incorporate it into your work. Or you can research authors with a strong voice and spend time reading their work. If you want to try writing a new type of narrative, such as a thriller novel, you can also use this research to understand the general tone or style authors use when writing that genre.

Once you choose authors to inspire you, try to practice writing in their voice or style. Mimicking their techniques can help you develop writing skills. For example, if you have trouble with descriptive writing, you can find an author who does it well. Following their example can help you practice this technique and feel more comfortable doing it on your own.

3. Find your perspective

Everyone has a unique point of view based on their background or experiences. Your voice is one method of expressing yours. Before you start writing anything, think about the purpose or message you want to get across. You may write a document to inform people about an important topic. Or an essay that you hope makes people laugh. When you understand what you want to say, it can help you find the voice to say it.

You can voice your point of view explicitly in non-fictional writing by telling the readers your opinion. In fictional work, you may incorporate your thoughts through the words of the narrator or specific characters. Or you may be even more abstract and use your perspective to set the tone and overall message of the story. Think about what you want the reader to get out of reading your work, whether it is a specific message or feeling about a topic.

4. Determine your style

The style you choose to use will vary on the type of work you produce. Your style may refer to the tone of your work and the language that you use. For example, you may want to use a formal style that follows every grammatical rule and avoids using colloquial language. Or you can choose to write in a way similar to how you speak—you might not care as much about following all the rules and use slang that you use in your everyday life.

Unless you receive specific guidelines, your style choice is up to you. You also may need to think about your audience. An author of childrens books portrays a much different voice than an author of novels for adults. You want to ensure that your audience can understand and potentially relate to your work. However, some authors write books for children and adults. They can adjust their voice by incorporating different words, phrases and tones.

5. Be consistent

Not every piece of writing you create has to follow the same rules or style. However, maintaining consistency can establish your voice as a writer. Many authors are known for consistently using a particular style or writing or narration. For example, Ernest Hemingway famously used simple language and structure in his work. Because he used such a distinct style, it set him apart from other authors and demonstrated that he had a strong writing voice. If you find yourself drawn to a particular narrative style, use it.

FAQ

How do you show voice in writing?

Elements of Voice in Writing
  1. Diction, or the author’s choice of words, chosen to communicate a particular effect.
  2. Detail includes facts, observations, reasons, examples and events used to develop the story.
  3. Syntax, the way words are arranged, encompasses word order, sentence length, sentence focus and punctuation.

What is good voice in writing?

5 Steps to Find Your Writer’s Voice
  1. Determine your point of view. …
  2. Pick a consistent voice for your narrators. …
  3. Think about sentence structure and word choice. …
  4. Find a balance between description and dialogue. …
  5. Write all the time.

What is style and voice in writing?

A writing voice is something that should be unique and authentic. Readers recognize an authentic voice by the words and language you choose and it makes work stand out.

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