"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, July 4, 2011

Do, Re, Mi...Tips to Cultivate Your Writer's Voice!

Have you ever noticed that when you tune into your radio, certain artists have singing voices that are immediately identifiable?

No doubt, before the D.J. even announces the singer and the title of the cut, you can figure it out. Right?
Consider folks like Michael Bolton, Beyonce, Celine Dion, Jose Feliciano, Josh Groban, and Michael Jackson, (who are also among my favorites).
Are you with me here?

Well as a writer and blogger, the same principle should apply.
Your words and style of expression should be heard (and ring unique) amid the chatter of “online voices” and “performers,” particularly in this very saturated medium. Hello!

So, let’s start from the top.

La, la, la, la…What exactly is voice?

Voice is referred to as how your words “sound” on the page. It is the reflection of your tone, your style of expression, your choice of words, your personality.
And the more authentic it is, the more it will resonate with your readers.

Now that you know the “what,” here are some “hows” to help develop your “chops”!

1. Read.
Yep, reading helps to develop your voice by hearing the repeated use of language, rhythm, and other important dynamics.

2. Be true to who you are.
“Sing” a little off key if it sounds good to your heart’s ear. I must admit, I don’t always write according to the rules. If the mood hits me, I use fragments, Ebonics, Pig Latin, and any other device that keeps me in the moment and makes sense for my particular audience and how I’m vibin’ at the time. Of course this doesn’t mean I’m advocating improper grammar, poor spelling, or inappropriate language. Or that your writing should lack clarity or consistency. That’s a whole ‘nother thing and a whole ‘nother post topic. Stay tuned.

3. Broaden your horizons.
This goes back to point number one. I bet you’ve heard most popular singers say that they were “influenced” by the styles of other great singers. Even those from former decades. Follow suit. Study and assess the best. If you’re a fiction writer, check out the writings of non fiction writers. Check out the authors that top the NY Times’ Best list. Get lost in a Harlequin Romance. Read outside your niche from time to time. Add some poetry to the mix, even.

4. Have fun with your audience, when the situation dictates.
Humor, when used appropriately, often makes your voice more likable. Use colorful anecdotes, ah-ha moments, and universal experiences to connect and show your versatility.

5. Go Acapella.
This is the equivalent of having the courage to “sing” without accompaniment, or in other words, having the chutzpah to speak out on issues where you may not be in the majority.

Follow these five tips and you'll successfully "speak" to the masses and be an engaging performer.



Contributor digitalart


  1. Good post, I agree! The greatest advice I ever got concerning voice was to relax and keep writing. It will come.

    I think that the coolest compliment you can get is when someone who knows you tells you that your writing "sounds" like you.

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 4, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    How true! Thanks, Karen.

  3. Thanks Jennifer! Great advice! When I was in school, my Creative Writing professor told me the same thing. It's so true though! It's like writing a poem, it has a "flow".

  4. '2. Be true to who you are.'

    That's it right there, my dear. :)

  5. WOW! I came over on Rebecca Kiel's recommendation. So glad she directed me here!
    Good stuff. Automatic follow.

    Best to you-

  6. First off How was your Fourth? Any Fire works? Second of all, I agree with Bryce Comment! Third of all, ( as you can tell I'm a writer.lol) Reading is essential to be the greatest writer you CAN be. As long as your reading, writing, and using your child like imagination. YOUR GOLDEN, without Eddie Murphy.

  7. I'm here from Rebecca's blog. I'm so glad she recommended your blog because I like your voice. Nice post.

  8. Hi, Jennifer:
    I hope you had a pleasant holiday.

    I enjoyed this post comparing a writer's voice to a singer's voice. For me, that immediately identifiable singer is Mark Anthony. Even when I'm flipping through radio stations, if I hear one extended note sung by him in passing, I pause and flip back to that station to hear the rest of his song. His singing style stands out that much for me.

    As to my own "voice," my biggest issue (thus far) has been going "acapella." Initially I write in a fashion that stays true to me, but then something happens during the revision process. I start to feel naked and out on a limb. So I drain some color from my writing to appease my insecurities. That is a choice I've always regretted so I am learning to turn away from that path more and more.

    You mentioned in a prior post about voice that a writer's voice will not appeal to every reader and that that's OK because the people who do dig your "sound" will appreciate your uniqueness. I think of that each time I write and it gives me valor.

    So thank you for practicing what you preach and maintaing an identifiable voice in each of your posts. I dig it. :-)

    Have a blessed week.

  9. Hi Yvonne,

    How have you been? Glad you liked the post. :-) Thanks for stopping by and weighing in.

  10. Hi Suze,

    Welcome! Wonderful to hear from you today. Much thanks!

  11. Bryce,

    Glad we crossed paths as well. Thanks so much for the "follow" and for your time.
    Rebecca rocks!

  12. jonathanfigaro,

    Welcome back. My July 4th was groovy. Good food, good moods. Fireworks? Not the kind I had hoped for. :-)Thanks for adding to the mix here.

  13. LynNerd,

    Glad your visit became a "stay." :-)
    I'm honored to have you here.

  14. Hi Janette,

    Mark Anthony, huh? Isn't he the hubby of Jennifer Lopez? I can dig it. Nice. :-)

    Trust me. Good writing is supposed to feel "naked".
    You're on the "write" path. :-)
    Stay the course. Thanks as always for your great input.

  15. Hi Jennifer,

    Welcome back! Good vacation? I hope so:)

    You know one thing that helps me to find my voice? Reading my writing out loud (a tip you had mentioned in one of your earlier blog posts). When you read out loud, it's easier to tell if the sentences sound like you or someone else.

    I love that you feel free to use fragments sometimes. Violating grammar rules scares me a bit but I break rules occasionally (for example, I sometimes start a sentence with "And" and I use way too many parentheses).

  16. Hi Nihara,

    Vacation was cool. Yep. Fragments are fine. But, as with many things, it's important to remember that there is a situational relevance. In other words, it depends upon the market and the purpose.

    I wouldn't use fragments, for example, in academic or business writing. But for blogging it's effective.

    Thanks for your perspective and time.