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Toby Johnson

Hey there, to answer this question, I've made a video explaining it at a length that can be watched on the morning commute or while having breakfast. Please do make sure to comment on questions you'd like answered in a future video. Please do enjoy and be sure to subscribe for more questions answered.



Myth Weaver
Writers Voice is something I have some interest in, because I have been looking for relatable way to describe it to others for quite some time, but find it a bit too abstract to define easily.

To me, while it is useful to be well read, and build a strong vocabulary, I find that is not quite the heart of writers voice for me. For example, while I know many fancy and archaic words, I personally almost never use them. My writing is far less erudite (<--fancy word there ;) ) than it could be, and I am proud of that. Very few words I use would send someone to a dictionary, and for most part, I seldom use words with more than three syllables.

Its not that I cannot, I could choose a different style. But its my voice. And I have cultivated it over many years, and I am quite happy with it.

To me voice is more than skill with the language. It is the way to story is related through the text and prose, the sharing of my mind and the way I want to tell, and communicated symbiotically and invisibly (maybe) to the reader. Its the where the tempo is laid smooth or increased or abruptly altered, where the sentences are plain or written with a twisty flare, where the right word may be 'said', but the right tone may be 'spoke'. Where the intonation of the little voice in the authors head hits the page and translates into something greater than just conveying information. It is words as art, and not just a medium. It is the additional coloring and shading within the framework of a story well told, that enhanced the experience even if the reader does not know its there, and helped create the immersive environment. Its when my character says 'I will not' instead of 'I wont' because one is right and one is wrong for who they are. Or the subtle way a message is hidden in what can be inferred instead of directly stated. I feel it is more art than science, and many dont seem to know who to make best use of it, and many could cultivate it more.

I watch videos on the craft all the time. Some I find useful, and some not. And some have pieces in them that were maybe not intended, and I still file them away. For me, I enjoyed the production of this, and I felt the message was useful, but not as deep as it may be if the subject is revisited in a number of years of cultivating. I liked the little touches of live acting the messages that were being spoken. Thumbs up on that.

But...why the nihilistic stuff at the end? I am sorry, but if the point of the video is to sneak in some kind of philosophical warfare you wish to conduct at the end, I will not make you a regular. If you want to be helpful to the writing community, I would avoid that stuff. Just sayin.

Oh, and in answer to the question, how do I find my writers voice?, my answer is not 'read', it is 'write' instead.
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I find the whole idea wrong. It feels like the concept of "Writer's voice" is misunderstood.

A writer's voice isn't about using fancy words or sounding smart. A writer's voice is what let's a fan pick out Richard Bachman as Stephen King or a computer recognize that pen name from J.K. Rowling. It's how you structure sentences and scenes to create a story. It's why you like or dislike the novel of some author. Of course, that can be because of fancy words and complicated sentence structure. But it can just as easily be the opposite.

Reading doesn't help with that at all. Only writing does.

That is not to say that reading a lot, or studying what others did and why it did or didn't work, is bad. It's good. It's an essential part of improving your craft as a writer. However, it will not help you develop your voice. Only writing does.
My writing voice is about me being myself and having a lot of fun when I write.

When I write, I sometimes feel an inaudible impression about a word, or a sentence, or even about a comma or a full stop...

... And I have to tend it, right away, or, add a Text Color to it, and deal with it later on.

When I read my work (or others!), every component in the text must flow and engage me.

Otherwise, I gotta edit, revise or rewrite until I feel it's right.

A voice or style is learning to be our deepest selves and nurture it.

That's the reason I write.


To be alive or dead.
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Mad Swede

To me, writers voice is how I express what I want convey in writing. And to me, that varies with what I am writing. Back in the days whe I wrote military orders, my voice was one of clarity and brevity: keep it short, keep it simple, keep it clear. Writing academic papers is different, there my voice was one of explanation and discussion; what had we researched, what theories were we trying to support, how had we done it, what results had we got and what did those results mean. But writing stories is something else, and there my voice is one of entertaining my readers, keeping them interested and engrossed in the story, making them want more.

And the only way to find and then develop your writing voices is to write. Only then do you learn how to write for a given audience. It takes practice. Sure, you can read what others have written, and you can listen to lectures. But at the end of the day, you have to practice your writing.


toujours gai, archie
I had no idea I had a writer's voice until folks in my critique circle said something like we all recognize Skip's voice. Really? Cuz Skip didn't!

I still don't pay attention to my voice (I pay close attention to my characters' voices, though), mainly because I'm preoccupied with trying to make a story that makes sense and reads well. Author voice, to me, is a matter for readers and critics.

By chance, I happened yesterday to see The Doors perform on American Bandstand (well, they mimed over the record). As he always did, Dick Clark talked to the band members between songs. He asked Ray Manzarek how he would characterize their music. This was a bonehead question for that band, but Manzarek gave a decent reply.

He said that there was no point in asking them. They were *inside* the music. It was up to others to characterize and label because they were *outside* the music. It strikes me that much the same can be said about author voice.


Article Team
A writer's voice is about a writer being themselves. One of the worst things one can do is to be disingenuous in your writing, as in not being yourself. It's like that old-school teacher trying to use the same lingo as a teen.It's painful and awkward and everyone can see through it.

Now, reading extensively, expanding your vocabulary, studying other authors can help you become a better writer, and in my books, can be great learning tools, but those things aren't what makes your voice your voice. Using 50 cent words when simple one will do, can and will act as a barrier to the reader connecting with the story. It can also make the author/story feel pretentious.

Read Faulkner. Read Hemingway. Two voices that couldn't be more different, but both genuine.
Author voice, to me, is a matter for readers and critics.

He asked Ray Manzarek how he would characterize their music.

He said that there was no point in asking them. They were *inside* the music. It was up to others to characterize and label because they were *outside* the music. It strikes me that much the same can be said about author voice.

A bit off subject -- but the same concept -- it happened to me, skip, that someone (my German wife) said, my native language sounded like a shhh sound coming out from the throat. Well, I wouldn't know 'cos I'm *inside* the language I said. She was a critic *outside* my native language (Portuguese).