Publishers and agents get submissions all the time that claim to sound exactly like another author’s work. Some love to make claims that they’re the next JK Rowling or Zadie Smith. You can even find out which famous writer you sound like through a website that analyzes your word choice and writing style.
While finding inspiration and taking notes from successful authors is always acceptable — and, of course, it sounds impressive to claim you sound just like a great like Agatha Christie! — it’s important to find your own unique selling point in the writing world. Quite often, that comes from a writer’s voice.
At the risk of sounding too self-help-guru level of inspirational, we want to help you find your voice. So, here are our top tips discovering your own:
1. Whose voice are you using?
It may sound a bit odd, but you’re not always going to necessarily use your voice. Especially when writing fiction, there will be a whole host of different voices in your book, so it’s important to decipher who is who. This can often mean plotting out the background of your characters, which we discuss a bit in this post. But, if writing as yourself, start with figuring out how you talk. If you keep your writing like your conversation, it’ll feel natural and your personality will shine through.
2. Why are you writing?
Your reason for writing can also help guide how you execute. Are you writing to entertain? Think about how you’d tell your story at a party. It’ll help you figure out the best way to capture your audience. Are you writing to inform? Obviously you still want to capture your audience, but that’ll likely happen through different means. If you don’t fully understand why you’re writing what you are, your voice will most likely come off as weak.
3. Decide on your tone
This also relates back to why you’re writing. Are you trying to stay light and happy? Are you writing about a heavy topic? While you only have one voice, that voice can take on multiple tones, and deciding which mood you want your writing to be in will help narrow down your options for finding your voice.
4. Read, read, read
We all know one of the best ways to become a great writer is to be a voracious reader, so reading can also help you find your voice. Think about some of your favourite pieces of writing. Whose voices do you admire? Why? Try to pin point exactly what works about other successful writers’ voices, and you should be able to translate that trick into your own style.
5. Write, write, write
And if you haven’t heard it enough already: practice makes perfect. Sometimes the only way to figure out what works is to figure out for sure what definitely, absolutely does not work. Try out different tones, topics and moods. Eventually you’ll come to understand which combinations work best for you, and it’ll be no time before you complete a piece of writing rife with a voice that is utterly and completely yours.
As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with some tips on how you found your writing voice!