Last week, we saw how the writing voice can make the difference between an ordinary story, and an extra ordinary one. Or it could simply serve as a difference between you, and your fellow author, making you much more memorable to your loyal readers. It could literally make you sound different just how your vocal voice does.
So how do you master this incredible art of the writing voice that has many readers clinging onto your every word like the very air you breathe? Like I said already, the concept in itself is very simple, but the simplicity of it ends there. The question then to be asked is, ‘Why?’
I could simply give you tips on what works and what does not, and some of them might be something like the following:
Try to be funny.
Show more of the details in the prose.
Write in the first perspective.
Write words in the form of a+b = ab square.
And voila! You have mastered the voice that could win you the Pultzer award!
No, writing doesn’t work that way. Maybe it does for some, but not for all. If it did for you, then congratulations for you just mastered a voice. But it isn’t YOUR voice. It’s just a mathematical formula derived from an another author, and you just put in your words in it.
How then could you master your voice that is unique to you, and only you?
Well let’s just imagine the following for a second. You’re in a class of 50 students including yourself. Each of you are of the same age, have the same classes, and do the same activities together. Does it mean that all of you are the same then?
No, you are not! Even 50 minions of the same colour are different from each other. How then could ginormous human beings be any same?
Other than the obvious physical differences in appearance, (I am assuming the 50 of you aren’t by some miracle identical twins or clone), there are many other characteristics that make you different from one and another.
You all don’t listen to the same music.
You don’t watch the same movies.
You don’t like the same kind of foods.
You don’t have the same friends.
You don’t think the same thoughts.
You don’t live the same lives.
Each one of you has a different background, a different upbringing, a different religion, a different history, a different temperament, and most importantly, different likes, and dislikes. These are the features that make you uniquely you, and different from another person. Even if you are conjoined twins, the two of you could have totally different personalities that make you different from each other.
So why am I taking a psychology 101 class now, when I should be taking class on writing?
To know your voice, you need to know yourself first. I believe every writer writes because writing feels like an expression of oneself. It doesn’t mean that you are expressing your psychopathic tendencies through your villain’s sabotaging tendencies. (Maybe sometimes it is). It could simply be the expression of your likes, dislikes, opinion or observation of a character written down in words.
That’s why even fanfics of books cannot sound the same as the original. It’s what the author gives the character of oneself, that makes it different.
This might all seem like a lot of work, and one that you may not be ready for. But if you are a serious writer, who truly believes in expressing oneself and have all your notions drip down with emotions in every word you write, you might as well get to know yourself simply because ‘you can’t express something you don’t know’.
And to know yourself, you have to be your own best friend. Find everything about yourself the way you know about your crush who went out with this girl the previous night, and have every single word they spoke memorized by heart even though they have no idea you even exist. That’s taking ‘Secret obsession’ to the next level, but you get my point.
That’s the level of stalking, and dedication you need to master yourself, and in turn master your voice.
This mastery doesn’t happen overnight, a couple of days, weeks or even a month. It’s a constant on going process since human beings are subjected to change just the way mutual funds are. So sit back, give yourself time, and get to know yourself.
So does that mean you have to stop writing, get to know every single thing about you, get a certificate of completion and then start writing again?
Again the answer is no. As I said before, it is an ongoing process that never stops until you do. So how then should you go about writing what you want to and how do you use your acquired knowledge of yourself into your writing? That’s exactly what I am going to talk about on my next post, ‘Practical ways to find and improve your voice (Writers Only)!