Having a strong voice that people will enjoy spending time with is a key part of writing a story. Lots of books on writing will encourage you to have a unique and distinct voice. Not many of them will tell you how to go about developing one.
So how do you make sure your voice is strong and consistent and interesting?
Here’s how I would do it.
As a writer starting out, it’s very difficult to be sure of yourself and speak with confidence. Voice comes from that confidence to be yourself and say what you want to say. Some people naturally have their own distinct approach that they bring to their stories. Which is great for them. But most aspiring writers don’t and end up writing in a neutral manner. Nobody wants to read a story that’s constantly second guessing itself or qualifying statements. A balanced viewpoint is not a strong voice.
One way to avoid these pitfalls is to write your story in first person. By taking on the voice of your protagonist, you don’t have to worry about being judged for what you say and how you say it, you can put the onus on the MC. You still have to work out who the MC is, but you’d have to do that anyway.
I want to point out that the voice your character speaks in and the voice you write your books in are not the same thing. A writer can write several books about different characters, and those books will all have his voice. It’s confusing because the word voice means the sound of speech and also your unique style and attitude. It’s the latter that is important here.
You’re not trying to capture how they sound when they talk, you’re trying to capture how they sound when they think.
Using first person can free up that part of your mind that is fixated on not embarrassing yourself by revealing things you feel insecure about. By shifting the opinions and ideas onto another person you can basically shift the blame. Then, when you write more freely, your natural inclinations will come through.
Now, I’m not saying you have to write the whole story in first person (unless you want to). You can write just one chapter, or you can write a short story featuring the character. The point is, once you get into the flow of how you see your world through this character’s eyes, you will have a much clearer idea of what voice can do for a story. Then, when you go back to whatever POV you wish to use, you will find it a lot easier to judge how effective your voice is.
If you already write in first person and still don’t feel confident you sound distinct enough, chances are your MC is being shy and reserved. A person reluctant to say things out loud isn’t that way in their own head, so you have to let them have their say. Even if it’s only internally.
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