Author Voice And Style

Allow your voice to shine
In real life, I'm not this articulate. Or this preachy-sounding, now that I think about it, although my kids'd probably disagree. I can be, but most of the time my brain is a mush-pile waiting to be delved into by small marsupials looking for nesting material.

Sorry, Reno
Euch. Sorry about the visual there, people.

But that's the beauty of editing, see.

Editing is important
Having said that, it is important that a story has what we call in the biz a "voice." Author Voice is another way of saying "author's personality." It used to be called "write how you talk", but if we all did that then everything would sound like this (in my case):

Ramble ramblerambleramble rambleramble saying very little with lots of words then go back and correct what you just said and then take a breath and then forget what on earth you were going to say in the first place. And forget my name, and I forget the word I wanted to use here; there's no shift-F7 in my head, you know (try it, you'll like it). What tense was I talking in again? Or something. Whatever. Go clean up your room.

This is all very well, but "write how you talk" tends to be taken too literally by some. "Author Voice" has some of that, but it also has to do with how you phrase words (style) and your personality and life experience. For an example, I am an Australian who grew up in the suburbs of a smallish city so obviously my childhood was very different from someone who grew up in NYC or Siberia. But even if I and my hypothetical NYC dweller had the exact same experiences growing up, we'd still have processed them differently due to personality.

It's important that you let your personality shine through in your writing. Even if you think you have the personality of the aforementioned cereal box's, there will always be someone who finds what you have to say interesting. Did you grow up in a small village in Essex? Well, you may find that boring, but I'd sure like to hear about it, because I've had no experience of that. Likewise, a kangaroo in my childhood city suburb may have been a boring, everyday, car-wrecking pest that deserved a freakin' bullet to me, but to someone from Canada or Uzbekistan the concept may be fascinating.

No matter who you are, you will resonate with someone. Never try to be all things to all people; that never works, people are too different. And, let's face it, it's the differences that make us interesting.

Style is how you phrase things. It can be passive (slow), pacey (fast) or denote atmosphere using a choice of words. You cannot force style: it gradually comes to you as you learn, and use, your own voice and learn to arrange words how you like them to sound in the reader's mind. It is also about grammar and how you use it. "Perfect Grammar" should never over-rule style, but good grammar does. You can't break the rules intentionally until you know what they are.

Next - Plot and Characterisation

Comment on this tutorial
Story Links