The Importance of Voice

Written by A.K. Leigh | April 17, 2014

I remember the first critique I ever received for my professional writing. In fact, I still have the email it was attached to so I can quote it here: “The issue with your writing is lack of confident voice”.

Ouch, right? I had no idea what voice was let alone how to have a ‘confident’ one. It sent me on a one woman quest to find out what voice was and, in the process, I discovered my own.

So, what is voice?

Ask twenty authors and you’ll receive twenty answers. For me, voice is that unique ‘x-factor’ that makes your work stand out from others. It’s the aspect of writing that enables you to differentiate a James Patterson novel from a J.K. Rowling novel. To be more specific, it is the point of view you tell a story from as well as the way that you say it.

Why is voice important in writing?

First of all, it sets your writing apart from other authors. Can you imagine if every book was written the way Jane Austen wrote? Or Stephen King? It would become quite tedious and boring. Unique voice also makes your writing enjoyable to read (or it should).

How does an aspiring writer develop voice?

The six techniques I used in my search for voice are:

1.              Relax. Don’t force it. Allow the words to flow uncensored from your subconscious. Remember voice comes naturally with plenty of… (See number 2).

2.              Practice, practice, practice. I cannot stress this enough. The more you write, the quicker your voice will develop.

3.              Write every day: even holidays, even your birthday. This ties in with point two.

4.              Write a variety of things. If you are a blogger, give an article a try; if you are a column writer, try a short story; if you are a novelist, try an article.

5.              Give writing prompts a try. There are a handful of free programs online that generate writing prompts for you. I have used some of these. Type ‘free writing prompt software’ into your search engine to find one you like.

6.              Read different genres and authors. Yes, that is not a misprint. Reading will help you develop your voice. By seeing how others express their voice, you will gain a better sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. Read a wide variety, not just the genre you write in. I am a romance writer, yet I read everything: thrillers, crime, classics, fantasy, paranormal, autobiographies and gothic.

If voice is something you are struggling with, give one or more of the above tools a try and you’ll see the difference it makes.

Bio: A.K. Leigh is an Australian romance author, freelance writer and blogger. She is a feature writer for Spirit and Spell magazine and her debut novel will be released later this year. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of Australia. She can be contacted via her website www.fallinlovewithleigh.com or her Facebook page www.facebook.com/AuthorAKLeigh.