This article is aimed at book-length fiction writers, although all writers could gain from the information presented here.
What is meant by a writers’ “voice”? Does every writer need one?
This topic is one that is important to every writer. Voice is more commonly known as Style. I believe a writer’s style develops over time and only when that writer comes to understand a broad range of writing techniques and issues. The writer also needs to understand how to make their writing different from every other writer’s work. This difference can be subtle, but it must identify the writer so readers can know what to expect when they buy your books.
Each writer starts as a raw beginner at some stage. Beginners are full of hope and enthusiasm for what they are writing. They sometimes barge ahead and write a book to the best of their ability. This is a great achievement, but being able to write a book is just the beginning of the project. If a writer’s work is riddled with basic errors, their style will be much like that of a lot of other beginning writers. It takes time, patience, knowledge and practice to develop a truly individual style – one that is unique to you and sets you apart from every other writer.
Style is an expression of originality
Style is an expression of originality. If a writer tries to emulate a favorite author, it will take longer to emerge as a fresh new voice in the marketplace. In fact, the longer you copy somebody else’s style, either intentionally or unintentionally, the longer it will take to develop your own writing style. So – yes – every writer needs to develop their own “style” or “voice”, but the trick is to let it develop naturally. The more a writer gets to know about writing techniques, the easier it will become to slowly develop an individual “style”.
How does a writer know when they have developed their own “style”?
When does a fiction writer know when they have achieved this? Well … the more confident you become as a writer, the easier it will be to recognize that your writing demonstrates an individual style and a high quality, devoid of all those beginner mistakes that plague new writers. Every new technique you learn and master effectively brings you closer to the point when you can say – I have my own style.
Style is also dependent on the type of story you are writing. Writers of gritty crime fiction will have a more edgy style than a writer of sweet romance. A fantasy writer will have different opportunities to build their style because there are less rules with setting up a unique world apart from the real one. A writer of childrens’ books or young adult fiction will adopt a style that fits their genre and appeals to their audience.
Seeking to become published prematurely
Unfortunately for a lot of beginning writers, they submit their work to publishers before they have achieved their own voice/style. The disappointment of rejection is something almost every submitting writer will have to endure. Waiting until that important writer’s apprenticeship has been served before marketing you work could provide a different result.
Another barrier to publication is a writer’s lack of editing skills. Advanced editing techniques should be acquired before a writer even thinks about submitting a novel to a publisher. Time and application will result in a writer developing competence in these two areas.
Read my other Fiction Writing articles:
Fiction Writing No-no’s
Fiction Writing Consistency
Fiction Writing – Repetition – a common error frowned on by Editors
This article is an excerpt from my instructional book for fiction writers currently in progress.