Christine’s note: Better Novel Project is not about creating a magic fill-in-the-blank formula. Instead, we’re creating a structural framework through the master outline. But, none of that means a thing until we, as writers, use that framework to tell a story through the lens of our own quirks, experiences, and imagination. This guest-post by J.Sander, the writer behind Don’t Delete Me, reinforces that idea. Let’s hand it over to J. to explain that one element we really shouldn’t deconstruct: the writer’s voice.
Your Mum Was Right When She Said You Were Special
What do you think is the most important aspect to writing? Is it the plot? Maybe it’s the characters or the dialogue?
If you think about it, all of that is really just the stuff that makes up the story. The most important aspect is the one thing that makes the reader keep coming back for more: the voice of the writer.
Without it, writing would just be 26 little letters strategically rearranged to make some words form a sentence– there would be no flavor added.
You need to look no further than the history textbooks you read in school as examples of some “flavorless” writing. Essentially, these textbooks are put together with one thing in mind: accuracy. And you know what? That’s sad.
Wouldn’t the world just be a better place if textbooks were written to read like a good page-turning novel? Everyone would get A’s! But one can only dream…
True Writing vs. Honest Writing
To maintain a safe distance from bland writing we need your voice. It’s the one ingredient that, I believe, comes from being true to who you are.
One of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway, was a big believer that good writing was true writing. Don’t confuse true writing with honesty or getting your facts straight (unless you are writing a biography).
True writing has more to do with who you are as a writer: Are you funny, or are you serious? Dark or positive? Adventurous or safe?
Your writing will really start to shine when your voice peeks through the “stuff” of your story. J.K. Rowling once said:
I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
I love this quote because it shows that she created her novels from the heart.
Whether J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter out of fear or out of love, her story has become a staple among most youth (and adults) worldwide because of the truth of her voice.
She wrote a book that spoke to readers; she built a connection. That is the importance of a writer’s voice to its story.
Do you really want to write the next Harry Potter?
If Suzanne Collins wrote Harry Potter would it of had the same impact? Not likely, and not because Suzanne Collins is a lesser writer. Both writers are great in their own way, but they are without a question very different writers.
This is reflected in their characters, their plots, their words and quintessentially, in how they tell their stories. So how do you think these great authors discovered their writing voice?
The answer is simple. They wrote!
I know, I know, it blows your mind away doesn’t it? But really, it is that simple. You already know who you are, and when you translate that to your writing, magical things will happen.
Finding your voice instead of emulating one
So what is the next step? Well, you want to be you own writer.
We all take inspiration from the books we read, the movies we watch, or the music we listen too. How else would we build our imaginations? But, you want to capture your reader’s imaginations with something new. The trick is to take that inspiration and mold it into something uniquely yours.
Look up to and aspire to be similar to your favorite artists, but don’t try and emulate them. You don’t want to mimic another author.
You have obsessions, dreams, and musings that are uniquely yours.
And you have had experiences, gained knowledge, developed ideas, and harbored opinions. Much like your fingerprints, all of those thoughts remain solely your own.
There is no better feeling than the one you get when you can reach the reader and inspire them to be brave, or to be creative; when you cause them to laugh or even cry; when what you felt when writing, they now feel.
Building that connection is one of the many joys of being a writer.
So be yourself. Write what you feel. It all starts with YOU.
For more information, check out these 10 exercises on finding your own voice from GoinsWriter.com.
J.Sander, the writer behind the Don’t Delete Me blog is exactly just that; a writer. A writer trying to write a novel, a short story, a poem…blog posts; anything! A writer just like you. Don’t Delete Me is all about the struggles of writing, figuring out how to overcome them and everything else in between.