Voice, in writer’s terms, is the “author’s style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character”. Yep, so far so good, that was easy enough. The only problem for many of us is this: HOW THE HECK DO WE DEVELOP OUR OWN? And keep it?
It’s a problem, all right. New writers rarely have their own “voice” right out of the chute. We usually borrow from our favorite authors, gradually building our uniqueity (new word!) up as we go. For some, it can take a while; for others, it’s just a few stories in. I was one of the lucky ones; I’ve been writing for years, since I was old enough to hold a pencil. That means I found my style (styles, actually) a long time ago. So by the time I started writing seriously, I didn’t really have to worry about it too much.
However, my writing voice can still change, or drift, in the span of a single story, so keeping it the same can be a bit of a challenge. With that in mind, here are few things I do to maintain a semblance of consistency in my style;
1. If you feel like your style is changing mid-story, stop writing for a bit, and read the stuff you’ve already written. Often, that’s enough to “kick” your writing into the right sound.
2. Mind-set. Can’t stress this one enough. Bad mood, ecstatic joy, a “blah” frame of mind… they’re all going to change your voice. Now, that’s not to say you can’t write a book unless you write the whole thing in the same frame of mind; for sad scenes, you probably need to be sad. For angry scenes, you need to be angry. What I DO mean is that if you find your writing becoming depressing in the places it’s usually funny, or fast-paced in scenes where it’s usually slow, your mindset might be off kilter. Do your best to switch gears when you sit down to write, regardless of how your day is actually going.
3. Food is important. I’m lethally serious here. NOTHING craters my writing style faster than being hungry. I might not realize I need food, but it shows up in my attitude really fast. Not everyone is like this, true, but give it some thought. Creativity is HARD to come by on an empty stomach.