So I’m working on my writing style at the moment: what I want to write about; how I express myself; my worldview. I need to dig deep, identify those elements that make me and my writing unique … My “voice”, if you will.
It’s really hard
This is why so many writers don’t – or won’t – go through this process. It HURTS and remember, we want to avoid pain. So instead those writers will tell themselves voice is about reader response, or even that voice is accidental; that there’s no real way of moving forwards and developing it actively. Craft can be honed, sure — but voice? Don’t be ridiculous!
Even I thought this.
I don’t now
You see there ARE ways of developing your voice actively. It’s not accidental.
Unfortunately, it’s different for every writer, which is why so many will throw their hands in the air and declare it a pointless endeavour because what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another …
… But when did that stop a writer?
Writing is tough because it is such a personal journey. But we are ALL united in one thing: whether it’s your career or a hobby (or somewhere in-between); whether you’re a novelist, a screenwriter or something else – every single one of us has to get words on the page.
So, if you want to identify and improve your writing’s voice, think: HOW do you do it? HOW can you make that style better? Here’s how I am trying these two things … By looking at my pages and asking myself:
- WHO am I?
- WHAT concerns me?
- HOW do I do it already?
- WHAT opportunities or threats am I missing?
- WHAT is good about my work already?
- WHAT can be improved?
- WHERE do I want to take it and to WHAT end?
We spend a lot of time talking about the above, reading about the above or even moving words about the page with thoughts of the above. But If characters are what they DO, then we as their creators are not DOING enough to develop our writing.
We need to practice what we preach
So whatever it is you intend to do with your writing, go one better. Don’t just look at structure, sequences, characters; put it right under the microscope. Make every single word count. Revitalise scene description in your screenplay ; or excise all those ”thought” verbs in your novel. Identify your strengths AND weaknesses … don’t just put every page under the microscope; or every line — make sure it’s every single word. And whatever you want to improve, don’t just aim for that; smash that target!
Always: go one better
It will be tough at first; it will feel like you’re walking on glass, or at least being buzzed by a really annoying bee. Remember that feeling; it means you’re on the right tack.
Do it as standard.
Getting Rid of “Thought” Verbs – Great advice from Chuck Palahniuk on LitReactor
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