Let’s start with a disclaimer: nobody finds it easy! The best writers in existence developed their style through hard work. This involves practice, reading as much as possible, and getting your priorities straight as a storyteller. However, there are a few identifiable qualities in the texts of a good authorial voice. Keep these in mind while composing your next story.
Imagine your audience sitting in front of you. They’re waiting to be carried away by your story. How do you accomplish this? Through an engaging balance of eye contact, voice timbre, pacing, and, above all, natural language that immerses them in the narration.
Now, adapt these principles to creative writing.
They change within the context of the written word, but they’re no less essential and doable in developing an engaging authorial voice. Your target reader needs to find your language familiar, easy to absorb, and beneficial to the narration.
For example, if you write a period or fantasy piece, the readers interested in these kinds of stories will expect and typically appreciate elegant language in long sentences. However, readers of crime novels set in modern times will find such language ridiculous, unnatural.
Bottom line: write with a language that is natural and beneficial to the story you’re telling. Don’t be afraid to let your own voice, your character shine through. That alone will distinguish your writing from those who stick to the exact same impassive style recycled over the centuries.
Depending on whose point of view you’re narrating through, even in third person omniscient, they have a voice you can make use of too. Instead of your descriptive influence – or even alongside it – you could let your protagonist’s language, opinions, quirks drive the narration’s style.
At the same time, the whole narrative’s structure can contribute to your character development. The effort of making such a feature work will help wheedle out your strengths and preferences as a writer. Invaluable practice in shaping your authorial voice, this a combination of personal likes and dislikes.
The role of reading is of interest here! Absorbing what other writers do, whether new or established, allows you to note trends in particular genres, as well as how you feel about them as a reader. What you’d like to apply to your own writing and what to exclude…
Show, Don’t Tell
You’ve probably heard this rule again and again, but it’s an easy one to forget while writing and, therefore, important to keep reminding yourself of. Showing and not telling is another opportunity to expand your creative writing skills.
For example, every time you catch yourself saying something like ‘Tom looked tired’ think about what his signs of tiredness actually are. And mould them into the narration.
An alternative could be: ‘Tom’s eyelids drooped. His dark circles the colour of plums contrasted with the blue of his eyes.’ If your POV is first person, you can have a lot more fun with this: ‘I can’t keep my eyes open. Maybe if I lift my eyebrows, my eyelids will follow. Nope. Can’t hold it. My face droops back down.’ You get the idea.
In addition to ‘Am I showing or telling?’, frequently ask yourself ‘So What?’ when introducing things – details, events, phrases, anything. You’ve placed a feature here. So what? What’s it supposed to do? What’s it actually doing? How does it affect your story, reader, writing style, and so on?
The choices you make, as well as your realisations about your narrative habits, quality of expression, and even the ways your text reflects your psyche, can affect your authorial voice. The more you work on your texts, the better you’ll get to know yourself and your abilities.
There is, of course, a lot more involved in improving your writing, but finding your unique voice among the bellowing crowd is a vital aspect to focus on. Be natural, playful, clever, and inquisitive. Your progress as a person and writer will surprise you.
Have any other helpful writing tips? Share your experience in the comments below.
Keep learning about the power of writing and reading…