We talked in our last blog about finding your voice as an author. If you missed it, go check it out.
Today we will discuss how to strengthen the way you voice your stories. Having a powerful voice in your writing means your readers will trust you and feel comfortable relaxing into your world with your characters. It gives them a sense of security knowing the story is flowing and going somewhere. They feel confident following the trail of breadcrumbs you leave for them as they traipse through the forest of your ideas.An author with a weak voice tends to leave plot holes, write pointless scenes, and meander too slowly toward their climax, which will leave a reader confused, frustrated or just plain sick of the book. A strong voice comes from a strong leader, and you, my friend, are the leader of your story. The more you strengthen your voice in your book, the better your story will be.
To strengthen your voice and resonate with your audience you need to do a few things. They take practice but that practice will pay off.
A strong voice starts with clarity of thought. You need to know exactly what you want to communicate, so you can present your ideas clearly without frills, distractions, or pointless rabbit trails. If you don’t know where you’re going in a story, the reader will surely not know.What do you want your reader to take away from the scene you’re writing? Can you explain it in one sentence? Two? Each part of a story has a unique and important purpose. World building, character development, and plot development all need to be communicated clearly without extra information that is not useful, while still balancing the three aspects of the story and maintaining reader interest.Cut away the fluff that doesn’t contribute push your plot, reveal your world directly, or describe your characters. Brush off the dust. Scrape away the icky parts, so your characters and plot pop and sparkle.
Appeal to your reader
We often think that writing is a one-sided journey. We sit at our computer, type our thoughts, and edit. It’s all about us communicating the tale. But this is far from true.Good writing is an interaction you have with your reader. Like a chef serving up an amazing, delicious dish, you the author serve up a fantastic meal for them to devour made of words. You wouldn’t cook a Christmas feast that you haven’t taste tested. You want the food to taste delicious. Likewise, you want your reader to devour the words on your page, so write them to be devoured. Write every single word as if your biggest fan were going to read it. As if it were the favorite dish of your favorite person and you were the master chef who got to cook it up.A strong voice speaks the reader’s language, uses the phrases the reader recognizes and understands. No jargon. No academic rigmarole. No complications. And if your reader just absolutely LOVES a bit of challenging vocabulary, be sure to use those strong words in context and correctly.
Paint clear pictures
Being concise is sometimes confused with using as few words as possible, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes you need more words to say less. I know that sounds confusing but hear me out. Writing the naked facts doesn’t necessarily communicate your message the best way. If you want to connect with your readers, you need to make them feel your words, see the scene you are painting. I often think of a painting I once did where I used only the color black. On the white canvas the paint popped, and I only used one color, but what I did use were several different brushes, lots of textures, different strokes and sizes. And when it was all said and done the painting spoke volumes.
Paint a picture in your reader’s mind. Use sensory and emotional words. Force their thoughts to connect to things they know and have felt throughout their lifetime, just don’t blurt it out in Dick and Jane type writing. We don’t want to read “See Spot run.” We want to feel as Spot’s paws brush through the grass and his ears flop in the wind while he speeds across the lawn!
Add a beat to your writing
A monotone voice is dull and boring. It drones like the hum of a fan, without excitement, surprising the reader, or stressing key points. My eighth-grade government teacher was like that. No vocal inflection at all and let me tell you I fell asleep in that class a LOT! To avoid boring the pants off your readers, you need to spice up your writing. Varying sentence structure, word order and even creating “white space” on your page (and between the lines) can really mix things up a bit and keep your reader engaged (and their eyes from getting too tired).Even setting sentences off by themselves for impact really gives you a punch now and then. The best way to develop a strong voice is to think about your reader and how they will interpret what you write. Give them what they want; punch them in the teeth with your powerful words, but DON’T give them extra and drown them in the sticky sweetness of cotton candy fluff words. When you cut out the waste, switch things up with sentence structure, paint vivid imagery with your words, and say it all without boring your fans, your voice will shine through. Your stories will hook readers and they will keep coming back, and you will stand out amongst your peers. So go ahead. Get practicing. Write a few scenes that display your new, stronger voice. You know you have it in you.