Wednesday, 21 September 2016

How Do Writers Get Their Voice?

    If you've ever haunted a few writing blogs, a term that's thrown around a lot is 'voice.' This could be a the voice of a character, or the voice of the author. I used to struggle to distinguish between the two, and while I'm definitely no expert on the subject, I've been thinking about one question quite a bit recently.

    (Quick side note: the wonderful Laura sparked the idea of this post when she got me thinking about whether readers are born or made. Be sure to check her blog out!)


How do writers get their voice? 

   Loads of blog posts and articles are very helpful on helping you tell the difference between the voice of your characters and your own. (An author's voice is usually defined as the author's individual writing style; a combination of character development, the use of syntax, characters, dialogue, etc.)

   But where does voice come from? Does it arrive in a magical parcel in your mailbox, polished and perfect the moment you crack it open? (I wish) 

   I've compiled a bunch of ideas on what the mysterious origins of a writer's voice might be, so let's get to it!


Idea One: 'You are what you read'

   I've noticed that when I read books in a particular genre, I tend to get story ideas almost exclusively in that genre. Similarly, if I'm in the midst of reading a humorous book, joking dialogue slips into my WIPs. So do the books we're reading or have read determine our voice? If we only read a certain style of writing (e.g. lengthy description) do we adapt that style for own voice?


Idea Two: 'Born to write'

   Maybe writers have their voice ingrained in their DNA. Then it would directly reflect their personality, their sense of humour, their tone, everything. In this idea a writer already has their certain style (think of it like how a singer is born with a, well...voice). So is voice something that changes and adapts, or will it be the same no matter what?


Idea Three: 'Life shapes all'

   This idea is a combination of the previous two with a bit more added on. Perhaps a writer's voice is influenced by three things: what they read, personality, and life. I know life is a huge topic, but events in a person's life, what kind of difficulties the writer is exposed to, all of those can influence a writer's tone and style. Maybe there isn't a fixed origin of voice, but it's instead crafted by the stories and experiences of the writer.


So what do you think? Do you think it's a combination of everything, or is there only one source? Are you able to describe your voice? (I'd love to know I'm not the only one who struggles to do that) 
Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from you! <3


10 comments:

  1. Ooh, this is SUCH an interesting concept!

    I really think that it's a mixture of all of them. After reading The Chronicles of Narnia, in my fantasy novel the dialog really got all proper and stuff. But, my personality definitely shines through: funny and introverted. Really something to ponder on.

    https://writinganyone.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks Alyssa! I'm also leaning towards the mixture of all my different ideas. My personality, particularly my sense of humour, seems to stand out the most in my dialogue. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting! <3

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  2. This is such a super interesting topic!! I'm actually supposed to be on blogging hiatus but this popped up in my bloglovin' email and I'm like "I GOTTA READ MELISSA'S GENIUS BBLOG RIGHT NOW"...so here I am.😂
    Ahem.
    So I do love your analysis!! I definitely think writers are all born with their specific style -- the trouble is finding it. For me, personally, I always felt it was practise. Like if you read my first novels, they sound noooothing like my writing style now. So there's definitely a lot of changing, improving, and discovering your groove the more you write. I feel like I've "got my voice" now and my books are generally consistent in that way. Although if I write contemporary it's different to how I write fantasy. But like you can still tell it's me. I HOPE. 😂 And while I'd give anything to write like Maggie Stiefvater (afdjasfldjakl my favourite author) sometimes I think more like Derek Landy which is just sarcastic nonsense. Bahahh.

    So I think I'm mostly for Idea #3! That life shapes us! And I think character voice should be different to author voice but...everyone tells me they can tell my characters in a second because of how I write them. SO. I think I failed that one.😂

    *runs away back into the gloom of hiatus* LOVED THIS POST.

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    1. Aww thank you Cait! *blushes* I already miss you and your fabulous blog posts!
      Definitely, I think our voices develop over time. I suppose when we mature (if that ever happens, that is) we probably slip more into our true style. Ugh my first stories sound like, well, a kindergartener, which is what I was at the time. XD I've started to latch on my own style as well but I also wish I could write like my favourite authors. Sadly that's not how it works. :(
      Haha I totally get that. It's kind of hard to make sure you still sound like yourself but stay true to the character. :)
      Thanks you so much for commenting Cait! <3 :D

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  3. I used to describe myself as Terry Pratchett meets Tolkien, but after reading The Raven Boys I've decided that I'm rather Stiefvater-ish. Stiefvater, Catherynne Valante, and Terry Pratchett? Idk. I know what I want to say, I just can't find the words. (Probably not a good problem for a writer to have.)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. Haha yeah that's not the best problem for a writer to have, but everyone seems to get it sometimes. That's definitely a unique combination! Your style sounds amazing. Thanks for commenting Ellie! :)

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  4. Good post! I agree about reading influencing what you write. I always have to be careful when I read because the author's style will go into mine if I'm not careful. That was more of an issue before I developed my own voice, however, which happened after abouuuuut ... three years of writing? Maybe? I'd hand-written two full length novels, and was typing up the first one and also co-authoring a project when all of a sudden it just clicked. It slid into place like a well oiled machine and my writing was suddenly almost good. I keep getting better of course, but when I look back and read my stuff I don't say EEEEW to everything like I did. So my conclusion is that it's all of these, but it's also time and writing.

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    1. Thanks Hannah! :D I think our voices mature and come to development the more we write too. That's so cool that it just clicked in place for you; it took me a bit more fighting to get it come through, but I'm definitely on the right path right now. Totally, time and writing play a big role!
      Thank you for dropping by and commenting! :)

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  5. I'd say I'm a mix of Tolkien, Victoria Aveyard and Jennifer Nivan, since those authors are the ones that I love the most and have influenced me the most. Although I have been influenced by other authors, such as Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater and Gail Carriger.
    I think writers are born with their voice, but as time goes on, it changes and molds to fit how the author has changed as a person, and it is influenced by what the author reads.

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    1. I love Victoria Aveyard. :) It sounds like you were influenced by a whole load of amazing authors! Yup, for me it seems like voice comes from a mix of everything. Thanks so much for commenting! <3

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