No, I’m not referring to the TV reality talent show, but to my writer’s voice.
For those who don’t know what is meant by that, a writer’s voice can be defined as the individual writing style of an author and how they use language, dialogue, story development, etc, in their own unique way to tell their stories.
Unfortunately, a writer’s unique voice isn’t always encouraged by others. When I began writing I soon discovered the list of rules that all authors are supposed to abide by. People are only too willing to tell you that you need to remove every single adverb, to stick to one point of view, to write only what you know, that you have to do a writing course before you start, you need to submit to competitions to get feedback from experts and change to meet their requirements, and the list goes on. And on. For a while I was overwhelmed by the huge number of articles and books telling me my writing was all wrong.
I’m not a rebel, and I’m not having a whine because I haven’t reached a best seller list. To be honest, while it would be nice to be up there, it’s not why I write.
My philosophy is, and always will be, that only I can write my stories the way I believe they should be written. I will listen to feedback and make changes if I feel it is warranted, but I refuse to change my writer’s voice to please others.
There are many good courses out there that can teach someone a lot about the craft of writing. I have actually done a couple of small ones, but nothing that has told me how I must write or what style I should adopt. To be honest, if someone ever told me I must write the way they dictate, or to some sort of formula, I would get up and leave. Why would I want to write like anyone else? I’m me, and only I can write my stories the way I do. Why would I want to change something that is uniquely mine to suit someone else’s idea of how a writer should write? Changing my writer’s voice is not something I’m willing to consider.
In her recent blog post Business Musings: Serious Writer Voice, best-selling author and editor, Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:
“Without an individual voice, a great story idea becomes a good story. Just good. Not brilliant, not memorable, not even worth mentioning to other readers … If you write in your own voice, you will discover one thing: readers will react. Some readers will hate your work with a fiery passion. Other will adore your work with equal passion. That’s the great thing about original writing: it incites a strong response. No one will ever call your writing competent or bland. They’ll have an opinion about it, and that opinion will be as strong as your stories, as strong as your voice.”
(Read the full post here)
Why would you not want your writing to get a strong reaction from readers? I know I do!
A writer’s individual voice is as much a gift to them as their talent for story-telling. In an industry that has changed dramatically over the past years, and will continue to do so, I believe it is important to develop your own style in your own way.
And we should all encourage that to happen - not stomp on it when we don’t agree with someone’s writer's voice.
So I may not be a best-seller, but I would rather be true to myself than change the way I write to meet others expectations and ideals. I’ve had some bad reviews - everyone gets them - but when a review says your writing is “a refreshing change from the normal”, then I see no reason to change what I do.
Now don’t get me wrong - I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m a long, long way from it. My writing continues to evolve all the time and I will continue to work and learn more about writing. There is one thing I will make sure of, I will keep my writer’s voice, and I will encourage others to do the same.
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