Ernest Hemingway. William Shakespeare. Stephen King. Judy Blume. Not many people on this planet can say they’ve never heard of at least one of these beloved authors. Why is this? Part of what makes these famous authors stand out among others is their uniquely defined literary voice. Some authors’ voices are unmistakable, often easily recognizable in a single sentence or two. But how do these timeless authors capture a unique author voice that seems to magically leap off the page? Well, it’s not magic. At least not in the sense of witches and spells.
Voice, in literary terms, refers to the mixture of word choice, tone, POV, and syntax that builds flowing phrases, sentences, and paragraphs in a melodic manner. And when done masterfully, it is what makes one author distinct from the next. It sets apart the great from the good.
So, how do you achieve this as a new budding author?
Voice is a tricky thing. It can’t be taught. Can’t be mirrored. Yet, it is one of the most crucial aspects of successful fiction writing. There is no secret formula. It is the point where the craft of writing and life collide. It comes from drawing upon your experiences as a human being and the way you view the world. It is the distinct way you are molded and is what makes you—you! THIS IS VOICE.
The bottom line is you must find it yourself. And you will.
An author comes into their voice in different ways. For example, Mark Twain is known for his dry, tongue-in-cheek sarcasm in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, while the author of Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice, is known for her sultry, baroque style.
Mark Twain and Anne Rice told their story in a way that only they can tell it. That’s why voice is so important. Rare is the storyteller that comes up with a story that hasn’t already been told at some point in literature’s past. But HOW we tell that story makes it UNIQUE.
What’s my advice to you?
Up the ante. Twist the screws. Turn your genre upside down. Tell your story through your lens, and I promise you, you’ll craft a unique piece of work that is sure to blaze the literary scene.
Now, get out there and make some noise. Burn that rubber. It’s time to #createyourepic!