Monday 29 April 2024

Uncovering Your Voice & Style


It took a long time for me to really recognise and understand voice and style. You have to remember that while I've learned a whole lot since the advent of things like YouTube and other social media, when I first started writing, these things didn't exist and I could only go to my library and ask for books I already knew existed. While things like amazon were around later on, I didn't know enough about what to search for, and books were expensive and I was poor.

My point is not to make you feel sorry for me, but to make it clear that learning about things like voice and style, they didn't happen until my late twenties, when I'd been writing, and publishing for a while. Things like KDP were an option once I hit thirty and they came around, but a lot of the growth I've made in writing before then was from things like working with good developmental and line editors. It was getting that feedback and working out what worked and what didn't. I didn't really know enough to say voice and style, for me in my books at least, was recognisable.

But, same as finding out that I generally don't need to read beat sheets to get the pacing right in certain books, I found that some part of me had brought our my voice, my style, and even now, listening to chapters of my books as they are turned into audiobooks, it's helped me really spot those parts that tell the reader it's my book. I say all of that because I wanted to talk today about how you can find that voice and style that matches you, telling your audience that you were the other, and sometimes, changes from genre to genre.

I say the latter because I've found that I have a very different voice when writing crime/mystery than I do when writing dystopian. I find that while I'm good at making sure my characters are distinctive, and I like to think I always have been, there are different types of characters I'll lean into when it comes to different genres. Like right now I'm working on the end of a dystopian trilogy and the end of a crime/mystery series. One is obviously a lot different to the other, and my voice and style in each are too. So enough rambling, let me tell you how you can try and do this with your own work.


I say this because a lot of what brings your voice to the surface will be the audience you are writing for. If you're writing young adult, like me, then you know that your voice needs to be more of a teen than an adult. If you're writing middle grade, it's better for that voice to be younger, and not read as an aged down teenager. I'm sure you get my point there. By knowing your audience and knowing who you want this book to appeal to, then you'll have some idea where you're aiming with your voice, and the style you choose to use to showcase that voice.

For example in the Dying Thoughts series, I knew it was YA, so teen, but I also wanted a teen who had sarcasm as her default state. I wanted Tara to be someone that a lot of teens could relate to, by giving her the somewhat immature start in book one, it was nice to be able to grow her up by the end of the series. I listen to the first audiobook and I can hear just how those style choices shaped who she is, and will be, as a character.

That all came from knowing my audience and knowing my own skill set. It allowed me to lean into things that another character wouldn't. It allowed me to paint Tara as a bit of a brat at times, but also then showcase her growth by the end of the series. It was important not just to me as the author, but those readers who wanted to grow with Tara.


Sometimes it doesn't matter how much you know your audience and characters, there can be a disconnect between the two. In that case, I'd suggest experimenting a little with voice. While there are some writers who don't have a very distinctive voice, it's always okay to try it and see.

For example, the first dystopian book I wrote, Lights Out, I really struggled with finding a voice for any of the characters. So I set about doing a few things with trial and error. I've never been someone who takes character sheets and the like. They all get a notecard, and they all get a description and other important details, but there is no need for me to know colours or ice cream flavours. I did spend some time kinda talking with Lock back and forth and found a few things out that matched what I'd been going for. I still didn't know for sure if I hit the right mark, but I listen to it now as part of doing the audiobook, and I realise that yes, she has a very distinctive voice, and also it sounds like my voice did make it there.

So even if you don't normally do something, try and see if something you've previously never done might allow you to not only find your character's voice, but also your own weaved into the words as you write your story.

So those are my top big tips when it comes to working out your voice and style. While I make no claims at being an expert, I do have experience in doing this, and just wanted to share. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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