How to Find Your Author Voice

Looking to brush up your writing skills or learn a new trick or two? You've come to the right place! Check back weekly for helpful tips and articles that make your writing better. 


January 12, 2024

Before we dive into how to find your author voice, we have to ask: What the heck even is an author voice?

Years ago, when I wrote my second novel, one of my friends said they would recognize my voice anywhere. At the time, I thought it was perhaps a bad thing. Did that mean my book was predictable? Too much like the first novel? After that, I went on a hunt to figure out what voice meant.

Through the years, I’ve come to realize that my author voice is that particular blend of tone, style, word choice, sentence structure, intentional errors such as unconventional dialogue formatting, and perspective that makes my stories uniquely mine. 

Over the years, my voice has evolved and now, as a mid-career author, I have settled comfortably into my own voice the way you’d settle into your favorite chair—naturally and without much fanfare.

If you’re just starting out and you’re looking for ways to develop your own unique style, there are only three steps:

  1. Write a lot. Writing is like brain hygiene. The more you do it, the better it is for your writing health. Play with words. Write poems, short fiction, plotlines for novels. Try stories in weird formats, backward stories, stories written in future tense. The more you play with words, the easier it will be for you to recognize your strengths and where your writing passions lie.
     
  2. Read intentionally. Writers are often told to read a lot, but I invite you to read intentionally. When you read a novel or a story you love, make note of it. Come back to it after reading it for pleasure and read to study. What exactly made you love the story? What was the point of view? How did the author draw you to the characters? Keep a notebook or file handy of all the stories you’ve loved and why. Do you gravitate toward certain craft elements? Are there some point of view elements you love more than others?
     
  3. Study your craft. You can’t successfully break the rules unless you know them. There are so many free resources online to study various elements of the craft of writing and the more you master each writing skill, the easier you’ll find it to incorporate them into your own writing. Once those skills become second nature, you’re free to spend your creative time on the important part of writing—the stories.

There are a lot of reasons to develop your own author voice into something recognizable to your and your readers. But perhaps the most important reason to settle into your own voice is that doing so will give you the confidence to keep writing even when someone doesn’t like your piece. 

Taste is subjective and not everyone will love what you write. But when you’ve found your voice and you feel comfortable with it, you’ll be able to withstand the criticism of people who don’t prefer it and gravitate towards the ones who do. 

⤟ backstory ⤟

February 2024

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Finnian Burnett

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