Can You Hear Me Now? Developing The Writer’s Voice

It is one of the highest compliments a writer can receive. 

The most sought after characteristic. 

The hallmark of a true storyteller.

It sets pros apart from the rest. 

It’s the writer’s voice

The writer’s voice is a magic ingredient that makes your writing irresistible. And makes the Industry want to meet you, hire you, and learn what you are writing next. 

While it takes time to develop a writer’s voice, the first step may seem like a simple one. Remember when you were a kid and nervous about fitting in?  Mom said, “Just be yourself.”  As usual, Mom was right.  

The secret to being yourself as a writer is knowing what you do best, as well as what really matters to you. Knowing your strengths and your passions.  What moves you. What you believe is important about life. What you’re good at and what you want to say. It is a journey of self-discovery. 

A developed writer’s voice is strong, distinctive, evocative, specific, intentional, confident and expresses the writer’s point of view. 

Writers with a voice have an outstanding, specific strength in their craft arsenal and know how to capitalize on them.

By choosing stories and genres that highlight their strengths rather than rely on their weaknesses, their work advances and they become known to the industry and to audiences. 

Writers with a voice have a distinctive style.

Their unique voice turns up the volume of every aspect of a story. Like the first line of a great novel or the opening image in a film, voice defines the entire piece. Their voice matches the narrative in genre and tone, fits the world and even character, to support and strengthen the story.

Writers with a voice are very specific with their words. 

Less is always more and brilliant specificity is spine tingling. What do we need to know? What is essential for us to understand the character or visualize the setting? One or two unique details that make characters and locations spring to life will give your story dimension and make your writing irresistible.

Writers with a voice tell stories that are evocative.

They move us – they create a visceral experience on the page. They don’t tell us the emotion; they show emotion in motion. The use subtext to externalize characters’ inner thoughts, feelings and conflicts. They put the reader in the shoes of the hero. This engages and impresses your reader and impacts the audience by evoking their own emotions.  

Writers with a voice make all their creative choices intentional ones. 

Everything is there for a reason. It serves a purpose: advances the plot, illuminates character and arc, or supports the theme, preferably more than one of the above at the same time. To me, this boils down to: What is significant? What do we need to know to fully understand the characters, the grasp their world and to underscore the message? From small details to major plot twists, their intentional decisions support their overall goal for the story.

Writers with a voice quickly convince the reader that they are in the hands of a writer who has mastered the medium. 

This confidence means readers can relax, allowing us to be completely in the moment and fully experience your story. To immerse ourselves in the world, and luxuriate in the storytelling.

Writers with a voice have a point of view on the world.

They have something to say about the human condition. They are clear on the themes that matter to them as an artist, and what they want to express in the story. Theme strengthens story at every juncture, informs every story choice, and is key to becoming a writer with a voice. 

A voice cannot be taught, but I think it can be discovered, developed, nurtured, and honed.

It takes time to develop and refine a writer’s voice. That means lots of writing, as well as lots and lots of reading and watching – consuming stories in every format they’re available in. 

Seek out writers with voices that speak to you, and read everything you can get our hands on by each of them. Do some Internet sleuthing, and discover the writers who influenced those writers, and read them. 

Take the journey to discover how to turn up the volume on your writing. The payoff is well worth it. Becoming a writer with a voice makes the industry eager to meet you, work with you, and learn what you’re writing next. Be a writer we want to know – a writer on their way to a career.

Learn more about developing A Writer’s Voice in my upcoming online seminar series, Screenwriting Elevated here.

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