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Voice, Quickly and Brilliantly

I get a lot of emails and questions about voice. What is it? How do you recognize it? How do you find yours? Is “voice” the same thing as wit or sarcasm?

For most writers who are starting out in their careers and learning about the writing craft, my advice is not to worry about voice. It’s a very higher order skill and usually comes after the writer has already laid a craft and mechanics foundation. Get the basics down, then start developing the more advanced stuff.

But I don’t want to leave readers hanging. I’ve thought about it a lot and distilled my thoughts on voice to one rather clunky sentence.

Voice, quickly: The words you say and how you say them, which gives the reader insight into your character, too.

If that’s not enough for you, San Francisco agent Nathan Bransford (He has a blog, too…maybe you’ve heard of him? Ha! I kid! Everybody’s heard of him!) has recently written a fantastic study of what components make up a voice. For those who are still confused about voice, this might not snap you out of your confusion, but it will give you interesting things to think about.

So here, from Nathan Bransford, is voice, brilliantly.

I know it’s frustrating to keep hearing, “You’ll know it when you read it” or, “One day, you’ll just wake up and know,” but that’s really, really true. Keep hacking away at your writing and getting those words on the page and your grasp on voice will keep tightening, I promise.



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