Hello and thank you for joining me today! In this episode we’re going to talk about how to find your voice as a writer. This is an important topic, but one that’s often difficult to discuss because voice can be so elusive.
But before I dive in, I want to give a shout-out Leanne and say thanks for writing in with this great question that sparked today’s episode. Leanne writes:
“I love to write from multiple perspectives, but if I’m writing in first person I struggle with making each character sound distinct. I’d love to know how to practice making voices stand out in a manuscript.”
Great question, Leanne. Though we all know what voice is, it’s hard to define and even harder to figure out how to practice it. Today we’ll look at a couple of techniques to not only make each character sound distinct, but also to help you find your voice as as a narrator and writer.
The best way to learn about writing character voices is to see it done well. Read pieces with distinct character voices in them and study the techniques the author uses to give each character its own life.
For two good examples of crafting distinct voices in your characters, read the first chapter of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and the first chapter of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Look for other examples, too, group scenes (with 4 or more characters) and try to get to the bottom of how these characters come across.
Power Tip: Copy a couple of paragraphs from these “mentor texts” by hand, to help ingrain them in your mind
Another way to help you find a character’s voice is to try what I call Method Writing. It’s like method acting, but for writers. Just like in method acting, practice becoming your character. Put yourself in their skin. See what they see, feel what they feel. Then you will be able to write how they speak.
Finding narrative voice is a little trickier to talk about but I have a simple exercise that does wonders to help you identify your voice. Take a simple scene or nursery rhyme and try writing it by imitating the voice of an author you admire (e.g. write “Jack and Jill went up the hill” in the voice of Toni Morrison). Once you’ve done that, pick another author with a dramatically different voice and repeat the exercise. The key here is to put voice into action. After all…
“The only way you can truly understand voice is if you do it.” via @DIYMFA
Keep practicing. Follow in the footsteps of the masters. Trust your process and your voice will come.
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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.