Finding your Voice
Your voice as an author is more than just what you have to say, but how you say it. It’s your style, your signature and your fingerprint. Each author is uniquely different. That’s what sets us all apart. For example, we’re all familiar with Stephen King. Take his novel, Salem’s Lot. I loved that book and the way that story was told gave me chills. It’s a fantastic piece of literature. Now say we take that exact same story and have it rewritten by Tom Clancy.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Tom Clancy. He was one of my favorite authors. His books are so amazingly written and technical that they astound their readers with the realism and level of detail he brings to the table. Tom Clancy’s vision of the same Salem’s Lot story would be completely different than Stephen Kings. I’m not saying it would be bad. Hell, I’d read it just to see how it went. But the fact remains that King and Clancy are very different storytellers. Their styles are nothing alike but they both tell fantastic tales.
That’s the point I’m trying to make. Each of us are different in how we tell our stories. In order for you to write your stories, you have to find your voice. You can’t sit down and write a book just like Stephen King. You can’t be Tom Clancy. You can only be yourself. The thing is, I can tell you that but I can’t tell you HOW to do that. That comes with practice and work, and that means through your writing.
As you write, your skills will evolve. It’s like any other skill, it gets better with practice and work. Fair warning, it’s an ever-evolving skill. That means, while you might reach a point where you’re happy with your writing, but you never stop learning more tricks of the trade. Well, hopefully you never stop learning. Don’t ever become complacent and convinced that you know everything there is to know about the subject. None of us do, no matter what some people might claim.
Another thing to bear in mind is this. Just because you can’t be Stephen King doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful storyteller. There are hundreds of authors out there who tell wonderful stories, and only one of them is Stephen King. Your style will be your signature. It will be the thing that your readers will see and enjoy about your storytelling. After all, stories are as much about how their told as what is told. I can think of people who are amazing at retelling information, but say it like it came out of a textbook. While that’s not bad if that’s what you’re going for, but if your intent is to both tell the story and entertain, then you’ll lose your audience pretty fast.
The best research you can do for learning your style is to read lots of books and to write lots of stories. The books will show you how others have done it and the writing will help you decided how you like to tell your tales. It’s an ever-evolving process, too. The more you learn, the better off you’ll be. Ask any writer how they feel about their early work and they’ll likely just shake their head and say, “well, it got better.”
I’ve been reading all kinds and genres of books since I was small. It molded who I would be both as a reader and a writer. It helped to not only shape my tastes in literature, but in how I liked to share that literature with my own audience. I don’t plan on stopping reading or writing anytime soon. You keep your own craft alive by constantly feeding that creativity in your mind. Constantly growing and improving.
While my own writing and style are far from perfect, I will continue to hone my craft as I go. I know my voice and how I write, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve. I love telling stories and sharing them with my readers. I hope that they enjoy reading them, as well. That’s the goal, anyway. To tell stories that readers love to read and, hopefully, tell their friends and family about. Word of mouth and praise from your readers is the best form of advertisement. That’s how classics are made, when people talk about the books and then share them with the people they care about.
So, I hope these ramblings have helped you in your journey, even if only a little. I love telling stories and I truly enjoy helping other writers with their own journey. If you have any questions for me, my social media contacts are on this website or you can email me directly at DARoberts@DARoberts.net . If I can help, I’ll be happy to.
I’ve said this many times in this blog and I’ll say it again in this entry. Writing is not a competition. Your success in no way negates my own. Success does not have to come at the expense of others. My success is not contingent on your failure. Your success is not dependent on anyone else’s failure. There are lots of different authors on my book shelf and I’m always willing to add more as I discover new ones.
That means there’s room on the shelves for both of us. Readers are always looking for more stories to read. They love finding amazing new stories and authors. Just because they’re reading a book by Stephen King doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy yours.
So, be good to each other. Support one another and always encourage other authors to keep writing. You might only have good karma to gain but you never know what dividends that could pay off in the future. After all, who among us couldn’t use a little good karma, now and then? I know I certainly could.
To borrow a phrase from Bill and Ted… “Be excellent to each other.” The world needs your voice and your stories. New stories and new adventures are what fuel the human experience. Write your stories and encourage others to do the same. Keep working and improving, because writing is a skill that takes practice and time. Let’s all enjoy those stories, together.
There’s room on the shelf for all of us.
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