You know that, when we write, we don’t just spit words for nothing hoping they will make sense to our readers. It doesn’t work like that, not even for poetry. To write is to create an illusion. That’s why many writers say that writing is magic.
What we do here is to create an experience where our readers believe that a person is speaking to them through our words, through our voices. It’s a beautiful illusion that amazes the other side of the paper or the screen when it’s well written.
And we all have many voices in life, haven’t we? The private-life voice, the work voice, the serious voice that we use for complaining or arguing about something, the funny voice we use when talking with family and friends, and so on.
The same applies to writing. The voice we use for writing is the one our readers will “hear” in this illusion we create to make them think we’re speaking to them. It’s the voice that we use for making them believe we’re gathered and telling them a story or talking about something they’re interested in.
So, to find a writing voice, we have to think of two variables of a simple equation. Who are we talking to? And what do we want them to feel? The sum of those two gives us a number on a scale that shows how your writing voice should “sound like”.
In social media, for example, my readers are writers and book lovers and I want them to feel like they’re discussing books and writing with a friend, having a cup of coffee. Because that’s the environment we, bookish people, love. That’s the voice I would love to hear when talking about those topics and the one I believe my readers would like, too. That’s why it works, and that’s why I like doing it so much, and that’s why you’re reading this so far.
Alright, maybe the equation metaphor was not a very accurate idea. Let’s use the same variables, though. Who’s your reader? What do you want them to feel?
Your voice should first be able to resonate with the personality you chose to be your ideal reader. Now the feelings you want to elicit depend on some writing tools like rhythm, metric, word choice, realistic dialogues, continuity, consistency, cohesion, etc…
A voice has a tone, a pitch, nuances. A writing voice has all those things and more, and it has to trick the reader into an illusion that paradoxically makes our stories real to them because we have to sound real.
If you think I haven’t answered the question yet, about “how to find your writing voice”. Let me give you a tip. Read. Because by reading you will hear different voices, and by hearing them you’ll learn how they work and which one you want to mold to be yours.
And if nothing works, just write like you talk. Write like the words come to you and write them as if you were saying them.
Now, between the lines…
What’s your writing voice? And what kind of voice do you love hearing when you’re reading?