We’ve all listened to speakers with a weak voice. They ramble on, speaking in generic terms and meaningless words. They don’t grip us with emotion. They lose focus and go off on rabbit trails using more words to say less. When those weak voices come in the form of novels we call them drivel and throw them out.
When we pick up a book we want to be captured, moved, and emersed in a different world of adventure and suspense, not trailed along with breadcrumbs that lead us nowhere.
Finding your voice
The typical mindset is that if you want to write better you should read more. I tend to disagree. If you spend all your time reading other people’s works, you will definitely be influenced by their voices, but unfortunately those voices you read in those novels can also taint your own style and cause you to mimic other authors’ styles.
Conversely, if you take time every single day to write and tell stories, you will gain experience using your own voice and learn how to hone in on exactly what makes your voice unique.
I’m not saying don’t read, but what I am saying is spend more time writing than you do reading other authors. Practice the craft of telling tales, long stories, short stories, wild characters and dull characters. Read them out loud to yourself; edit the snot out of them. Let beta readers help you tear them apart and put them back together. Find what works for you. The more you practice, the more clear your own voice and style will come through. And in the end, you will have discovered a “you” you may never have known existed.
This advice seems to fly in the face of traditional school of thought, but I’m telling you, time and again I’ve seen authors who aren’t necessarily readers blossom into some of the best storytellers I’ve ever laid eyes on. Before you can tweak your voice and strengthen it, you must first find it, and to find it, you must search within yourself, not within a myriad of books.
Tell stories that matter to you
My advice to novice writers is this: Get alone. Get a method of writing—pen and paper, computer, old-fashioned typewriter… and write. Tell the story of your first kiss, or the day you fell in love. Tell about the horrific automobile accident you lived through, or your perspective on historical events like 9/11. Tell the stories. Tell all a lot of stories. Make your friends and family read your stories.
The more you write the closer you are to finding the voice inside yourself. A famous author once said you don’t really reach your stride and settle in to your voice as an author until you’ve reached 1,000,000 words on the page—that’s one MILLION words! So get cracking.
The only way you gain muscle is by exercise. The only way you gain knowledge is by study. And the only way you discover your writing voice is by writing. Then, and only then, can you strengthen that voice and learn to wield the might pen as your weapon! Good luck authors!