How to Find Your Author’s Voice

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Happy Monday, Everybody! I know it’s been a while and in case you’ve been checking milk cartons for my picture don’t panic; yours truly—the Quanster—has just been terribly busy with motherhood, home renovations, trips to Home Depot, a little somethin’ somethin’ called The Upcoming Release, and an extremely active one and a half year old whose newest obsession is playing hide-n-seek (who taught the child that hiding in plain sight is effective???).

But anyhoo, I’m back, baby! And anybody who I’ve missed visiting with, please accept my apologies. I plan to get caught up with everyone soon.

So what’s on my mind today? Well, besides the incredible chicken Alfredo that I made last night, I woke up this morning thinking about voice. And no, not the old church lady who lives in my head. I’m talking about my author’s voice.

What is author’s voice? Our good friends over at Wikipedia define it this way:

The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of their common usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).

I’ve been thinking about this lately because of a particular project that has been nagging at me. Without giving too much away, the book feels like it’s going to be a horror novel set in Louisiana. As much as I luuuuv the opening line, first paragraph, and narrative voice, I kept getting the feeling that something about the novel was off. And just this morning it hit me: although I’m sure I could do this novel justice as is, the novel doesn’t feel like me. It feels like something I could pick up in any bookstore on any given day and be written by any given author. In other words, it doesn’t have that Quanie Umph, if you know what I mean.  I have yet to, as we say back home, put my foot in the thing.

So how does an author go about finding his/her voice? I think one of the most important things is to figure out what you do uniquely well. Not what’s hot at the moment. Not what Mr. Hot Shot Author did that led to him selling a million copies. What is the one thing that people comment on the most when they read your writing? What are the things that tie your work together?

When it comes to my own writing, people always compliment the humor, the dialogue, and the “southerness.” And if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it???  Now, I’m going to go back to this yet to be written novel and re-visualize everything: the main character, the setting, plot. And hopefully, after going back to the drawing board, I can craft something that feels uniquely mine.

So  whatever that thing happens to be that you do exceptionally well, hone it like mad, make it your signature style, and write baby, write!

What about others? Have you found your voice? What’s the one thing people always compliment when they read your work? And if you think that you haven’t found your voice, what’s the one thing you feel that you do really well? I’d love to hear your thoughts!