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!

25 thoughts on “How to Find Your Author’s Voice

  1. Pingback: How to Deal with What to Write Next-itis | Quanie Talks Writing

  2. Quanie! Welcome back! So glad you took time to keep the main thing, the main thing.

    I just had this discussion with my new editor. I worked on a story and kind of felt like my voice was scrubbed from the first few paragraphs when it was published. I emailed her and she was really sweet about everything…but it was kinda of the first time I recognized: I DO have a voice.

    Thank you for the reminder to check-in internally when things seem a bit off.!

    • It’s great once we recognize that. I realize that every story is different (and we have to write according to what feels right within the world of each particular story), but once you know who you are as a writer, it’s so much easier to say, “Nope. That ain’t me. Sorry!” Good for you for sticking up for yourself.
      Quanie recently posted..How to Find Your Author’s VoiceMy Profile

  3. Good to see you back. ^_^

    I’ve had people tell me my writing voice seems better-suited for YA stuff, and I don’t know how true that is, as I haven’t read a whole lot of YA. But some of my plots-in-progress are YA, so who knows, maybe it’ll work out that way. As for what I do uniquely well, that seems to be a mix of “people with unusual abilities doing awesome stuff” and “non-standard relationships”. I’m fine with this. 😛
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    • You know what? I had an idea that felt like YA (once I started writing), and it scared the heck out of me! So much so that I abandoned the project, lol. It’s a huge market, so if you ever end up writing some of those people with unusual abilities doing awesome stuff in a Y.A. world, you just might have a hit on your hands:)
      Quanie recently posted..How to Find Your Author’s VoiceMy Profile

  4. YAY. I didn’t think to look on milk cartons for you! I’ve missed your blog, though. I always learn so much from you.

    I wrote a YA partial for my agent and she said the voice was still MG…I tried another and, yep, still MG. I used to be able to do the grown-up stuff, but apparently my voice is going DOWN in age as I get older! But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t change voice. You can work on finding your voice and refining it…but if I did that for YA, I would lose my MG spark.

  5. Good to have you back, Quanie! You definitely have a distinct voice that is warm and funny and that Q.U. needs to be in your books. I think I might have found mine, too, but it doesn’t always come out at first. Needs a bit of stewing, mine.

    *Oh, and my soon-to-be-three niece loves hiding things and asking us to find them. But she cannot help revealing the hideouts as soon as we start looking. Lol. Have fun with motherhood and the upcoming release. Hope the home revamp is all done!

  6. Welcome back! (And good for you, taking a break when you needed it!)

    This is definitely the most important aspect of an author. I’ve got 3 different voice based on whether I’m writing for adults, teens or kids, but they definitely cross over. I tend to be somewhat snarky with adults, a bit angsty with teens, and more fantastic with kids. It’s probably better to stick to one genre and really smooth that voice, but I like bouncing. It makes me feel…flexible. =)
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  7. Welcome back Quanie! I was about to put out an APB, girl. I love your author’s voice and it’s one of the reasons I always look forward to reading your books.

    I think I’m still discovering my voice as a writer. I want to say that my strong point is emotionalism. I’ve been struggling with it lately, because being an emotional writer means that my work is full of internal character musings. Not exactly popular with today’s short attention span of most readers. They want the story to move forward quickly, and sometimes I want to just let my characters BE and process things. I hope to find a balance soon, without compromising my style too much!
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    • Ha@ APB! And I don’t think you have a single thing to worry about! I love that fact that your work is emotionally charged. It’s your thing! Not every book is going to be a fast paced thriller, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Character driven stories have been holding it down for quite sometime now. Ya’ll ain’t goin’ nowhere!
      Quanie recently posted..How to Find Your Author’s VoiceMy Profile

  8. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back! And what a great topic to discuss. Yes, an author’s voice is important. It is our branding, our marker, and our identifier that distinguishes our books from other writers. I’m still in search of my author’s voice yet I’ve been told a number of times things about my characters. Whether the reader likes them or not, they are still interested in learning more about them. Guess that’s clue number one on what to hone in on to develop my author’s voice. Word usage is another thing I do well, something that’s been commented on by poetry editors too.
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  9. Glad you’re back Quanie! By chance do you plan to release your next book in paperback? I still really, really wished that ‘jazzy’ book was in pb. “I have to get me Quanie lit”… which by the way is my writing voice. 😉

  10. My voice? Well, just now I’m positively squealing – Quanie’s back, yaaaay!! But typically I’m pretty much… all over the place (grin). I can go from my “Did you know” to “when he smiled at me from under that rock I knew we’d be fast friends” voice in the space of one idea. It just depends on what feels right for what I want to convey. However, there is much to be said about tried and true, can’t lose continuity and that’s you to a knee-slappin’ T. You have the ability to have us laughing through our tears, giggling with fear, even as you constantly keep us nodding in solidarity to the plights of your characters:-) How cool is that?
    As far as your current MS, try a different POV. You might be surprised;-) You know you’ve got a story here, but who’s going to tell it?
    diedre recently posted..Commotions of CottonwoodMy Profile

  11. I remember the moment I found my voice! I was reading my MS back and it dawned on me that my MC spoke in such a distinct way, i was like “oh, so THAT’S voice.” Now I try to make sure all my projects have that distinct tone. It’s a light, fun, quirky tone! The main thing I do well in my writing is tackling the theme of fame. Fame fascinates me. How badly so many people want it, and when they get it, so many blow it. Also anything involving working in television! SO HAPPY YOU’RE BACK!!!! <3

  12. So weird…just yesterday I thought of you and how long it’s been since I recieved an email about a blog post. Glad your back!

    I don’t even think about it…my author voice. I just write. More importantly, I think about my character’s voice, as I feel that’s the voice I need to be in.

    • Thanks, Chrys! And that’s a good way to approach it, I think. Sometimes you can tell an author’s work, from book to book and sometimes, you just can’t. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as long as the story is good. Now if I can just get this particular story right, I’ll be well on my way (I hope!)
      Quanie recently posted..How to Find Your Author’s VoiceMy Profile

  13. Author voice is one of those terms that sometimes feels like an elusive magic unicorn. You’ve done a great job of describing it succinctly. It’s always a challenge to dig deep and find that voice and be confident enough to go with it, instead of trying to go with the market. Good luck on your work in progress!
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