Making Your Voice Your

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but mimicking another writer does not make for good writing any more than copying a portrait by an Old Master makes for great art. Analyzing how a certain writer uses language to achieve effects can be beneficial as you experiment with narrative voice. So can understanding the conventions and expectations of the genre you're writing in. But it is a mistake to assume that what works for someone else will necessarily work for you.

You might be thinking, But all science fiction stories are like this, or This is how a mystery is supposed to sound, or Ifl don't do it this way, it won't be literary. It's true that stories in a given genre have commonalities; the common threads define the category. If you want to write in that genre, read stories of that kind voluminously until you've absorbed their form and feel into your bones. Then write the same kind of story, but differently. Do it your way.

To find out what your way is, ignore the trends and pursue the story you feel passionate about. Make yourself a sorcerer's apprentice, learning how language makes magic. Become willing to offer your unique and valuable perspective, based on your personal observations, experiences, and imaginings, and to do it with no holds barred.

Your characters, conflict, plot, and setting embody your ideas and insights. What you are striving to do is communicate them to readers with the greatest possible impact and power. This is what editors are responding to when they cite voice as a key to a successful story.

There are three proven ways to develop your voice as a writer. When you follow these steps you will gain confidence and achieve better control over your material. Your appreciation of language will grow and so will your skill in using it.

2. Write some more.

3. Keep on writing.

Enjoy your journey into your story world.

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