Learning Your Voice

We’re looking for at least 500 authors to chime in on how long it took for them to find their voice in a way that had them utilizing it well.

Take the poll and share it with your author peeps!

Have thoughts about this? Share them in the comments.

Lonely Owl Books

How long did it take you to learn your voice?

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  1. Voice!! Ugh. Sometimes I read books and hear the voice so clearly!! Other times it’s more subtle. Or maybe just not as in-you-face. I like that voice, though. The more subtle one, and I hope mine comes off that way. I read a book recently, and I actually heard more author than I did character. After a while, it got hard to read becuase I felt like the characters all sounded like her… instead of individual.

    • Bria Quinlan says

      That’s so true. Some authors you read just for the voice. I think this is especially true for humor and lyrical prose.

  2. I didn’t even know what voice meant the first time a judge commented that mine is distinctive. Had to look it up.

  3. Since I write historicals, I’m constantly training my voice by listening to audios.

    • Bria Quinlan says

      Sally, how do you balance using your own voice with the influence of the audios?

      • “Voice” includes a lot of information, including word choice and phrasing. Those are the items that are changed when I listen to an audio book before I start to write.

  4. My fiction writing voice was evident from the first novel. Took ten years to realize it never changed. Lol

    • Bria Quinlan says

      Nice, Tami. We Owls (Bria & Jeannie Lin) believe that your core voice stays in place, even as the edges of it shift around for genre, style, trends, etc.

    • Mine too. I was too unsure of myself as a writer to trust that what was coming out was “right.” When I read MSS I abandoned early in my career, it’s really no weaker than my voice today. I just have more storytelling experience to strengthen and stretch it.

  5. I found my voice during the second manuscript for my contemporary crime series. However, I’ve just finished a gaslamp fantasy mystery, and my voice is different. A little more whimsical, perhaps?

  6. My fourth manuscript was an experimental historical, and after the first couple of pages I knew I had found my voice. I’d tried hard on contemporary, but it didn’t work. Historical and I took off like gangbusters.

  7. Tammy Baumann says

    I truly found my voice after I wrote a book in first person!

    • Bria Quinlan says

      Changing my POV definitely made an impact in how I use my voice. I’m looking to change back and am thinking carefully about what that will look like.

  8. I’m with Tammy. Writing in the first person definitely made finding my voice instant.
    Thanks Bria! xo

  9. My old job entailed writing book-length evidence reports that included description, narrative, analysis, arguments, conclusions, and recommendations. At the time I didn’t think of my voice as voice, but when I started writing fiction… there it was, ready to rock. 🙂

  10. Nancy Coiner says

    Because I was an academic & writing formal, theoretical academic articles for years, switching to (a) fiction-writing voice(s) has taken a long time, and I still have to expunge some of my “teacherly” tendency to state clearly and repeat key points. My voice is also pretty different in different genres. I started with a fantasy series, in third person, with several POVs. That gave me the chance to be lyrical and dramatic. Now I’ve finished a first-person, humorous urban fantasy, and the voice is younger, more snarky, more flip. Both are fun. Both are sides of me. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to combine them.

  11. Bria Quinlan says

    Wow, two comments like this in a row! Breaking your voice in (not breaking it!) in other writing!

  12. I had no idea what voice was when I first started writing, but my initial readers all complemented my voice, so I guess I had it from the get-go. I consider myself fortunate. Voice is one of those “I know it when I see it” things and hard to teach, even so, Barbara Samuels does an excellent workshop on voice.

  13. none of those… I think somedays I find it.. and some days i struggle like I’m in the dark and end up tripping right over it and land in it by accident.

    • Bria Quinlan says

      Ray ~ that’s rough. I know I don’t sit down every night and immediately start writing fluidly. I guess this is more arguments for those people who do warm-ups! *ponders*

  14. I just heard it coming through one day-like that high clear ‘ping’ of a crystal glass- and I just focused in on it and listened for that rhythm in everything I wrote until it became part of me.

  15. So, it’s not that I’ve never thought about it, but I tried to pinpoint when exactly it happened. I feel like I’ve always had my voice, at least pieces of it, but it was figuring out how to write well to enhance it. If that makes sense. My first MS, which is total crap, is in my voice, but it’s not well written. So maybe I’ve always had it? I’m not sure. Tricky question for me lol.

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