Every writer has a unique voice. As a reader, you should be able to hear the unique qualities of the book’s author in your head.
Some authors write with a natural flair for humor. Others, have a more subtle approach. But it’s your voice as a writer that will cause a reader to keep reading. You may have the best plot in the world, but if you have a dull, monotone, completely uninteresting voice, your reader won’t get far enough into your book to see that you have a killer plot!
It was easier to understand “voice” when I was working as a singer. My voice was obvious. It boomed out into the lounge thanks to a great sound system. I’m happy to say that no one ever threw rotten vegetables at me. A good sign that my voice was appreciated. But, everyone has different taste in music, and not all people liked to hear me sing. I didn’t rap, (okay…I made an attempt at it once), and I wasn’t into heavy metal. Also, opera was, and is, something I’ll never attempt to sing. It’s not me. It’s not my voice.
When I first decided to sing, I had people ask me if I was going to take voice lessons. Should I have been insulted? No. Though I chose not to take voice lessons, I look back now and believe they could have helped me. I was afraid that they would take away my unique qualities and make me like everyone else. What I didn’t understand is that I could have learned techniques that would have enhanced my voice, not change it. Perhaps it was pride that kept me from taking that next step. Whatever the case may be, I know now that it never hurts to learn ways to improve your craft.
So, how does this influence me as a writer? Well…again, I have a unique writing voice. But what I’ve learned is that I’m not going to shy away from learning ways to improve my writing. When I first joined RWA and my local MCRW chapter, I had someone tell me that I needed to learn what everyone else in the group knew, so that I could be like everyone else. My thought was, ‘why would I want to be like everyone else?’
I understand now. Others in the group knew more than I did about the industry. They knew techniques to improve my writing. Sitting around me was a vast amount of knowledge in the minds of other writers who had no hesitation about sharing what they knew. All I had to do was listen and learn. Wow!
So, instead of being insulted believing that I was being told I was unable to write at that point, I jumped in and started soaking up knowledge. And, after nearly two years in the chapter, I’m still learning. And loving every minute of it!
My voice is still my voice, but now I’ve learned ways of putting it on paper that will make a reader want to keep turning the pages.
Keep your unique qualities, but don’t shy away from learning ways to improve them.