Can You Send Your Writing For Voice Lessons?

3 10 2011

When you’re starting out as a writer, one of the hardest things to craft is your voice. Going beyond your use of narrative and tense, voice is what digs down deep inside of your writing and is always indicative that you wrote it.

When I think of literary voices that I know instantly, there are a few that come to me. Hemmingway’s machismo and guys guy way of writing. Anthony Bourdain’s unmistakable narrative voice in his shows that carries over to his writing. It’s quick, in your face, and very New York City. Just like the man himself. I have to wonder what it says that I’m having trouble recalling a female writer that has a distinct voice. Most female readers I’ve read tend to let the storyline and characters speak for them and I remember the voices of their characters, but not theirs as a writer.

When you’re first starting out , your voice is informed by what you’ve read, what you love to read and what inspired you to pick up the pen and start writing Your voice is overlaid on top of the voices that you’ve been soaking up and emulating when you decide to start to write. Writing teachers recognize this stage, it would be hard not to when you’re reading submissions that sounds like amateur versions of well known authors. They then urge novice writers to find their voice. They stress the importance of that voice, that you must find it to succeed and you must find it now.

I’m of the mind that your voice develops as your writing does and that for a lot of people, that voice has several different octaves and changes as you go through different stages of learning the craft of writing. Finding your voice can not be forced to come quickly. It comes with time and experience and it also changes with them.

I’m finding that looking over my own writing for the past year that my voice has been undergoing a change. My writing has always been detail-filled and, I’m going to admit it, wordy. Over the last few projects I’ve been working on, I’ve noticed my narrative is tightening up, I’m choosing what I’m revealing in plot points more selectively and finding ways to convey the story I want to tell with fewer words. I’ve learned that sometimes the act of finding your voice is also the act of shutting yourself up.

Have you found your own writing voice has changed over the years? What changes have you noticed?

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