Your writing will sparkle when you let your unique voice shine through. Find and develop your voice, so your readers get to know you.
When my daughter was born, my son was four years old. After four years of being a mother, I was pretty sure I had the hang of things. Robbie had been through so much–teachers and therapists when he was three weeks old, multiple hospitalizations, and an ever-growing fan club of people who met him–that I thought nothing could surprise or flummox me. Within a few hours of her birth, Katie disabused me of this conviction utterly. Her personality, her needs, her reactions were the polar opposite of her brother’s. How could two children born into the same circumstances be so different?
If you are a parent, you know the answer. Each child is different, and each child bursts into this world in a never-before-seen radiance of singularity. In the same way, and for the same reasons, each writer has an original voice. With a bit of confidence and an abundance of practice, every writer can find and develop his or her extraordinary voice.
Developing your voice
Right now I am editing a book whose author has a very entertaining and colorful voice. Reading her work is like chatting with her over a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) as she regales me with one hilarious story after another. Although I have never met her, I feel as though I’ve known her for years. Through her diction, imagery, and syntax, she reveals her personality and style.
A writer chooses his or her words deliberately. Words, of course, are the building blocks of all writing. Just as a builder uses materials that are best suited to the particular structure he or she is assembling, a writer searches for just the right words to reveal his or her voice. When you are cultivating your voice, explore possibilities until you find the words that bring your voice to light.
Draw pictures with your writing. The great Russian writer Anton Chekhov advised, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Evocative imagery immerses your reader in the world of your work, which is the essence of your voice.
Arrange your words and your imagery as a florist arranges the blossoms in a bride’s bouquet. Create your intended effect by occasionally inverting the expected order of words in sentences. Consider Yoda: “Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.” With just a bit of rearranging, George Lucas fixes his iconic character’s voice in our collective memory.