In some ways, this is Ode to Inspiration Part 2, but I want to talk about voice in writing. Voice isn’t something I think you can work on directly. It comes naturally. When I talk about writing voice, I don’t mean your character’s voice, but the voice resonating in your writing style. The traits in your writing that show it’s really you who wrote the darn thing.
Axe trying to tweak your voice, especially if you’re trying to imitate an author. Powerful voice will come once you’ve hopped on a soapbox you’re passion about. Everything else will fall into place after you figure that out. In Ode to Writing, I talked about how my love for writing stems from escapism—building worlds I can live in and go on adventures with my gaggle of crazy characters. On a deeper level, my reason for writing is to get out a message and have people hear what I have to say. The messages stem from my experiences in life and how I’ve interpreted them with my gold-rimmed monocle as “the other.”
My spin on things has come from a life of being a minority. I guess a double minority if there is such a term? Anyhow, whether it’s because I’m black, or gay, or both at the same time, I’ve always been “the other.” That has left some obvious footprints in my creative mill that affect my writing. It’s why I tend to write from less common viewpoints: strong heroine characters, non-heteronormal characters, or characters from minority races. It’ part of my message to show people these other perspectives.
I think you have to figure out what you want people to take away from your writing to be effective. Even as a discovery writer, I find my message at some point in the story. Almost never in the beginning but eventually it comes out as soon as my conscious mind catches up to the plumbing underneath. Anne Lamott, in Bird by Bird, talks about how all writers should write to give readers hope. I think that’s a great starting off point. So pick your battle and start writing, and you’ll see your own voice running along with your characters, leaving its traces in your story.
P.S. I know I owe you some scenes and more concrete examples of writing, but life has been very hectic lately with gearing up to move to San Francisco and finding a new job. I will be back soon in full force. Happy writing!
[Featured photo credit: Khalid Albaih]