One of the things that will help you enormously when you are writing stories is finding your writing ‘voice’. Every successful writer has one of these, regardless of what they write or how.
Your writer’s voice is what makes you unique as a writer. It is as unique to you as your signature.
It is hard to describe what your writer’s voice is, because it is something that you will develop yourself. The more you practice writing, the clearer and more like ‘you’, your writing voice will become.
The best way to describe it is when you listen to a song on the radio, and even though the song has just started you will already recognise the band or the singer because their voice or sound is so distinctive.
Or you read a piece of writing by your favourite writer, and even though you might not have read it before, or might not even have even seen who it was written by before you read it, you will know that it is by your favourite author because it reads like they have written it.
What you want is for people to read your writing and hear your author’s voice through the words on the page. The only time that this is not so helpful is when you are writing a book as if you were someone else. Take something like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for example. It works so well because we hear Greg’s voice as we read, not the author Jeff Kinney’s voice.
Even so, we recognise Jeff Kinney’s voice as a writer, even though he is pretending to be Greg. Only Jeff Kinney can write Greg’s voice like that, because Greg is created and written by him. If someone else wrote another Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, and it had all the same characters as the original books, we would probably be able to tell it was written by someone else because it is very hard to copy an author’s voice, even though we might copy some of their style and ideas.
Lots of people start writing stories because they are inspired by a particular story or a particular author that they love. They want to write stories like the author that they love.
There is nothing wrong with this, but if you are a serious writer then it is very important to find your own voice rather than copy someone else. Someone like Jacqueline Wilson for instance, is an author many children admire, and lots of children are inspired to write by her, and write stories like hers.
The problem with this is that Jacqueline Wilson already does what she does brilliantly. If you are serious about becoming a writer you will find it much harder to find an audience if you are someone ‘like Jacqueline Wilson’ or ‘not quite as good as Jacqueline Wilson’. What you are looking to do is to find a way to write entirely like yourself.
One way of doing this is to write every day. It doesn’t matter what you write. You can keep a diary, or a blog, or write poems, or stories, or write a few pages of a book every day. Writing is like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger you get.
The other important thing is to read what you have written. Learn to recognise what words you use the most, what types of sentences and descriptions you use the most. Learn to hear the voice of your own writing by reading it. You can read it in your head or you can read it out loud. Lots of people write but don’t read back what they have written. Reading as if you were the audience you are writing for is very important indeed.
Sometimes people get the author’s voice mixed up with style.
The two things do go together. You will have a certain style as a writer that marks you out. Some people write in short, clipped sentences. Some people write long, flowery sentences. Some people prefer to write like reporters, others have a more poetic style. Your style will develop as you learn more about language and grammar, but your voice is different. It is something that you add to your style, something that you develop with time, and something which makes the difference between a good writer and a great writer.