5 ways to find your voice…in 5 voices

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  1. Understand what voice is

Voice is the personality behind your writing, the thing that makes readers recognize your work even when they don’t recognize the byline. Many things contribute to voice: sentence structure, word choice, mood, tone, and more—so by definition, all books have voice. But not all of them have really standout voices; the writing may be clean, but it lacks personality. But a unique and strong voice is priceless; it can make a book un-put-down-able regardless of plot.

  1. Train yourself to recognize a strong voice

This is easy, like if you read a lot or whatever. I mean, anybody can tell the difference between Ray Bradbury and Doug Adams and Earny Heming-whats-it, even if you throw out the plots. You just gotta know how to listen. Like, Bradbury is real poetic and descriptive and stuff. He can take you right back to summer vacation even if you’re freezing your toes off in December. Adams just thinks the whole universe is a joke, which makes him kind of depressing and really funny at the same time. And Heming…the Old Man and the Sea guy? He cuts out all the fancy words and just tells a simple story, but it’s pretty deep and stuff. I’ll post some little word clippy things next week so you can see what I mean.

  1. Remember, your narrator is a character, too

If you are behooved to write in the first person—telling the tale through, for instance, the eyes of your protagonist—you have certainly delved into that character’s innermost thoughts. But have you skewed every line of narrative with a unique, stylistic flourish?

Worse, a third-person writer may not have dreamed there was another character waiting to be tended to. But even a narrator who never steps upon the threshold of a single scene, is as vital as your hero—nay, perhaps more so. He is the voice within the reader’s ear. The eye peeking over their shoulder. Wouldst thou really let him wallow in commonplace prose?

Naturally, he must come from within you, and thus must start out as a part of you. Mayhaps he is an uttermost extreme version of a one side of yourself. Or mayhaps he is the darkest corner of your mind. Mayhaps he is the wit you wish you were. Ask yourself why he is telling the story. To entertain? To teach? To confront? To rant? Why does he bother himself to write it all down?

You may write in his voice all the time, or you may change narrators, as you would shoes, for each story you write. But whatever you do, do not let him (or, as it may be, her) become a bore.

  1. Experiment

When write long piece, piece like novel, you maybe accidentally write different voices. Maybe you read this book when you write chapter one, make you write one way. Maybe you listen to this song when you write chapter two, make you write another way. Then you go back, you read different voices, you see one you like, you write again to make all sound like voice you like. But you should try do more.

Take paragraph, write five different ways. Like a different person write each one. Maybe one a scared little child. Maybe one a drama queen. Maybe one a angry man. Or a alien. Or Death.

Find voice you like? Write more. Write whole scene.

We go deeper in voice experimentation in two weeks.

  1. Rewrite!

Come on people. You should have guessed this one. Did you not read the title of this website? What is wrong with you? Finding your voice isn’t as easy as changing a word or two. Oh-ho, of course you wish it was. But we can’t all have what we wish for, now can we? You’re going to have to go over that baby a few times, maybe alotta times, before it sounds peachy-keen. You should already know this. Why are you still reading?

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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21 Comments

  1. Nice post. Unfortunately I won’t follow #5 as often as I should. I am the Queen of not rewriting. I check the spelling and whatnot for typos, but I rarely, if ever, rewrite.

    • Ah. I shall have to break you of this habit. On the other hand, there’s a very strong possibility that I rewrite TOO much. All things in moderation.

      • Probably you will have to. But I tend to ruin the rawness of anything I do if I think about it. So I don’t. Most of the time I don’t even have a story. haha

        • Yeah, I know what you mean by over thinking. I more often over think something the first time I write it. Then I realize something I don’t like about it and go back and rewrite it–hopefully without thinking about it too much, which sometimes results in lazy, but other times results in something inspired. Ack. Writing is such an untamable profession.

  2. Voice – it seems to trip a lot of people up. Myself included. Thanks for these useful tips. (Hate that last one too, though.)

  3. I enjoyed this post. I find that my voice, while stronger and clearer in first person, lacks the artistic style that seems to flow through my third-person narrative.

    • Oooh, good point! It’s often easier to connect with a first person narrator, faster, but there are limitations – beyond just what the narrator knows, but what they are likely to say and how they are likely to say it. Regardless of who we decide is our third person narrator, we have much more freedom to say what we want, how we want.

  4. This info is GREAT. I struggle so much with it. The unfortunate thing is I often don’t recognize what I must do, how to change it. I am keeping this post close by!

    • Yes. Recognizing the exact point that your voice has slipped or become weaker is probably half the battle. More…nine-tenths the battle. I mean, if we always knew WHY something was wrong, we’d be able to fix it, no problem. It just takes reading and experimentation!

  5. Wow, what a way to show, and tell! Awesome and educational.

  6. I love your blog! Lot of nice tips. 🙂 And I like what you said about experimenting, I guess, I’ll do that sometime.

  7. Thanks, Stephanie. Some of this is new to me, I have much to learn. I think I’ve heard about rewriting somewhere…

  8. Pingback: 5 fantastic examples of voice « BeKindRewrite

  9. So glad I happened upon your blog (thank you WP tags)!

    I especially like your fourth tip: experiment. It’s hard to make yourself do this when you’ve written a piece one way, but wow can it make a difference.

    One of my creative writing teachers recommended a book called, ‘Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction’ for those of us struggling with voice. I’ve yet to read it, but it’s definitely on my list.

    Thanks for a great post!

  10. Pingback: How to write in an other-worldly voice « BeKindRewrite

  11. Pingback: 5 fantastic examples of voice | bekindrewrite

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