Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Who Said What?

Have you ever caught yourself reading a book and then saying, "Hey, this sounds just like (fill in the blank)..." or, "Isn't this one of his/her books?" You then flip the book over and your eye glances at the author's name and sure enough you're right. Credit goes to both you and the author. You have practiced distinguishing the words and the author has been stable with his choice of words--diction.

 So what makes someone's work recognizable?


Voice simply is the style and the way you talk in print. It's the words that you craft that make others say, "Oh yeah, that's so and so."

So how do you become recognizable? Practice. Practice writing different things. Try writing in a humorous way, dramatic, mysterious, romantic, and contemporary/casual. Try various writing techniques. Experiment with your words. Remember, each one of us are different. You talk differently and act differently from everyone else, so your writing too will be different. The worst mistake that you can do is to pretend to be someone else. Don't try to sound like a best selling author. They have their own techniques and styles, you need to compose your own kind of words. Let your thoughts form the words, you have your own unique way to sound, so you too will achieve that recognizable voice. You don't want someone to read your work someday and say, "Hey that doesn't sound like her/him!" It's not only disheartening to you but the original author. Write anything and everything and explore the many options of writing.

How to make your voice YOURS!

  1. Write as much as possible
  2. Write in a journal
  3. Write in a letter format (a letter to a friend perhaps)
  4. Write about your day
  5. Write the things you see and experience daily
  6. Write about the thoughts going through your mind
  7. Don't worry how your words sound, just write
  8. Write like you talk--be yourself
  9. Write what you know
  10. Write about your personality 
The examples above can help stir your voice and make it come alive. The grammar and style will come after, you first need to establish a stable voice. Your writing will shine because of this. It will blossom like a young rose. I find that the most rewarding aspect is that it becomes recognizable. Recently someone told me that they picked up an article I composed. They didn't know that I wrote it at first but by the second sentence, they said, "Yeah, that's Vanessa alright!" For me, that's encouraging. It tells me that finally all of the practice and action I have put into my words not only are alive but they are mine and someone just noticed it. 

Writes tend to worry. Don't worry. I know that sounds like an understatement but there isn't any other explanation. Don't worry what you sound like through your writing, you may not sounds as professional as Bob or as slick as Susie. IT'S YOU. This is your writing and your voice, the one you were born with. Experiment with different writing tools. Try writing long sentences, the ones that flow and go on and on forever and eventually can lose you if you don't stay on track but they are the sentences that still carry a lot of meet. Or write short. To the point. Powerful. 

Remember your goal for writing as well. You're writing because you CAN'T NOT write and you're writing because you have message to share. Think of your writing in this context. You're a proud parent of what you have just written. It's beautiful and it's your own voice and words. Don't let anyone else tear you down with their harsh criticism. You may eventually notice that you'll gain more than one voice. You may sound formal in your historical novel, tacky in the article for New York Times, casual in your short story, or wild in the comic. There are many different voices and once you find them, you'll be amazed. It'll be an experience that's overwhelming but exciting at the same time. You're voices are there, they are waiting for you to open up and crawl out of your shell. 

Come alive and write!