Voice refers to an author’s unique style, tone, and personality that are conveyed through their words. Your voice encompasses many elements of writing, including the use of language, sentence structure, and the way the writer presents their ideas. It reflects an author’s individual perspective, experiences, and emotions, and creates a connection between writer and reader. It’s the way a writer’s personality shines through their writing, creating a unique and recognizable identity that sets them apart from all other writers.

An author’s point of view is based less on specific descriptions or dialogue and more on the book’s overall mood and worldview. You will want a reader to note themes, character types, and writing styles that show you have a distinctive voice that transcends individual works. Look back at the novels you have already written, especially those of us that have or are writing a series. These books sit firmly on top of one voice, your voice.

Written work usually represents multiple voices. The narrator is the overarching voice of a novel when written in the third person, of course, but the voice shifts to the protagonist or antagonist, depending who is telling the tale, when told from the first person. These perspectives are very different and will change the underlying mood and voice of a novel. Speaking of characters, every one of them will also have a singular combination of personality and vocal syntax via their written dialogue. Don’t be afraid to make those voices unique and powerful. The more dynamic a character’s voice, the more defined they will be. No one wants two-dimensional characters.

The style you choose will vary in the type of work you produce. Your style may refer to the tone or mood of your work and the language that you use. For example, you may use a formal style that follows every grammatical rule and avoids using colloquial language. You can also 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. Your voice is entirely up to you.

Developing a strong voice in writing can be a challenging task, but here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Reading a variety of genres and authors can help identify different writing styles and voices. Pay attention to the tone, word choice, and sentence structure.
  • The more you write, the more you’ll refine your writing voice. Practice writing different genres, styles, and formats.
  • A strong writing voice is one that’s genuine and authentic. Write in a way that feels natural to you and reflects your personality and values.
  • Identify the themes and topics that interest you and align with your writing goals. Writing about topics you care about can help find your unique voice.
  • Experiment with different styles of writing, such as humor, satire, or serious tone, and see what works best for you.
  • Editing and revising can help refine your writing voice by making your writing clearer and more concise.
  • Share your writing with others and ask for feedback. Their perspectives can help identify areas where you can improve and strengthen your writing voice. Or the feedback could destroy your dreams in an abyss of criticism. Just kidding here.

Developing a strong writing voice is a continuous process that takes time and effort. Be patient and persistent and your writing will improve over time.

As a footnote, let me say one last thing. It is a misnomer that developmental editors want nothing more than to change the author’s voice. They are actually looking for developmental and consistency challenges across the entire book. If you are concerned at all about preserving your voice from sadistic demons carrying pitchforks and torches, tell your editor up front that your voice is sacred. They will understand.

In fact, one time I saw an editor rip into one of my book on the first few pages, going after my voice. I asked the publisher to give me another editor with a better understanding of English. It’s that simple. Remember, you control the editing process. Changes are “more like guidelines than actual rules”. 

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