Writing style is something I often discuss with my students, and I maintain the belief that everyone’s style is simply how they write naturally. However, if you are new to writing stories, developing that natural writing style is difficult, so today I will be going through some of the best tips for creating your writing voice.
Let’s get into it!
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1. Reading and Analyzing Like a Writer
The very first method is to start reading like a writer. Writers who are planning a novel or practicing their techniques often gain a better appreciation of their favorite stories. While this is a great way to look at your prized novels from a different angle, you can also learn a lot from professional writers by studying their various methods.
There is more to writing than the techniques we learned in school!
The way you study another writer’s work is by finding something similar to your story. It could be an entire novel with a story similar to yours, or you can pick and choose scenes from different novels. Note how the author introduces characters, conducts their dialogue, sets the scene, and conveys the action. While you may use different words, you can follow the same overall methods that they use for key points.
Of course, you will only employ the methods that you find enjoyable, and that you would like to make a part of your style. Quite often this means taking inspiration from multiple authors and their techniques. If you are completely new to writing, you must do this as much as possible when reading. If you come across a scene or story you enjoy, take a moment to go over it and examine the structure that is used.
Having a notepad to write what you notice is always a good idea as a writer, or if you are reading digitally, you can save the passage to break down later.
2. Practice Writing Stories You Are Familiar With
You want to start simple, which means writing stories that you are most familiar with. Whether it's the genre you have a greater attachment to, write the most, or even read the most, you have a better understanding of what you want from a book of that genre. That is an excellent way to start writing as you don’t have to think much about the target audience, as you are the target audience!
Every writer, no matter how much variety they try to include in their writing career, enjoys one genre more than any other. These are the kinds of stories they will like to tell more often and usually have the most joy in writing. That enjoyment is another factor in writing you will need to take note of, if you are writing a genre you don’t enjoy, your interest in writing will slowly decrease.
If you already know that genre, those kinds of stories, then you need to practice it as often as you can. As I said earlier, writing is filled with many techniques and tools, and you will want to get to know them well, especially if you plan to start with a large project.
However, practicing with what you are familiar with doesn’t just include the genres of writing you know well. You can write about your life and experiences! You can write short stories about major moments in your life, or even try your hand at daily journaling. Since these are moments you are most familiar with, you should be comfortable writing about them.
One thing I recommend doing should you decide to take inspiration from your life is to write them from your perspective first, before trying your hand at third-person narration. You want to tell the story in a way that you tell it to a friend or family member. If you write this way at first, you will have a better grip on conveying the emotions of your characters, making a scene that much more immersive.
3. Experimenting with Different Writing Styles
With some notes taken, the next step is to work at. However, if there is one thing I encourage for all writers, beginner or experienced, it’s trying new things. Don’t settle too quickly into a certain genre, or focus too much on some scenes more than others. Don’t be afraid to tackle the styles and scenes you are unfamiliar with.
As time passes, you may want to branch out in your writing and you don’t want to approach different genres only knowing how to write one kind of story.
That’s why it helps to also take notes from authors in different genres and experiment with those styles and techniques. At the end of the day, these methods might not click as well as the genre you are most comfortable with, but you will have taken steps to improve at writing them, perhaps even including such scenes in your novels for more variety and depth.
An adventure novel with well-written action scenes is good, but with an expanded writing toolkit, one can include tense, thriller-like scenes or moving romantic scenes, turning one’s novel into something so much more.
Unfortunately for me, and some more experienced authors, I only really discovered this after years of writing and I wish I had dabbled more with different ideas rather than placing myself in only one category of writing so quickly. It never hurts to try something new!
4. Being Authentic and Genuine
When it comes to finding your writing voice, it’s important to keep it real. Don’t try to be someone you’re not or pretend to like things you don’t. It can be easy to do so when you consider the previous advice, the studying of other writers, and dabbling with different genres. Your writing should reflect who you are as a person when it comes to storytelling.
If you want to write a new story in a different genre, try to find an aspect of that genre that interests you, and tell a story that matters to you.
Often, what a reader is looking for is a connection to the author, the same way viewers can connect with an artist through a painting. Your unique style needs to be accompanied by your unique ideas. Don’t try to be a cookie-cutter version of yourself, especially if you are to become a prolific writer. If you keep this much in mind, it should set you apart from the other writers, which is exactly what you want if you are interested in standing out or being published.
Write the kind of adventure you would like to experience, write a romance that you would have an emotional connection to, or write a thriller about something that scares you. Don’t lose that personal touch you can add to your story.
5. Embracing Flaws and Imperfections
No one’s perfect, and that’s okay! When it comes to finding your writing voice, don’t worry about being flawless. Embrace your imperfections and quirks, and let them shine through in your writing. If you have a specific writing habit you can’t let go of, it might be better to accept it.
Whether it’s your love for puns or your tendency to ramble on about your favorite aspect of the story, these little quirks can make your storytelling unique and interesting. It’s certainly another factor that will help you stand out among other writers.
Far too many beginner writers strive for perfection and it can negatively impact their writing style. The writer might hesitate more, redo chapters instead of progressing and encounter more writing blocks because of that self-imposed pressure. If you want to enjoy the experience of writing, I always encourage a writer to charge forward, regardless of small errors and spelling mistakes.
A rough first draft in 6 months is better than an okay first draft in 6 years. Don’t fret about the corrections you need to make later, or the habits you are stuck with, once a first draft is done it enters a new phase of the writing process, one that is easier and faster to deal with. Whether you start a second draft or dive straight into editing, you will be glad that you pushed ahead, accepting the mistakes at that moment and that they can be corrected later.
6. My Advice: Writing Short Stories
My last piece of advice is a personal tip. I encourage all writers to dabble with short stories whenever they feel like writing, but would rather not attend to a larger project.
Short stories are a great way to practice, test your skills, experiment with different styles and genres, maintain the writing habit and stay constructive. Somedays you won’t feel like tackling your novel, and sometimes those days turn into weeks, and then months. For me, short stories have kept me consistent and my love for writing alive.
Another point I would like to make for the business-oriented writer is that short stories can also be sold as compilations. If you write a certain genre more than another, then you can take your short stories, clean them up and expand them, then create an entire book to put on the market. Many writers do this, and many publishers purchase short stories and create their own compilations to sell.
When I was starting, writing a novel just seemed like the best way to find my style. I jumped into that and wrote several drafts because I had no clue what I was doing. The story kept changing, as did the characters, and eventually I realized that I need to slow down and finetune my skill set.
That meant learning from other writers, experimenting, and eventually approaching a novel with a better understanding of style, length, and structure. If you are new to writing, I encourage you to learn as much as you can and keep it up. If you do this, your writing skills and style will improve dramatically every day.
If you are an experienced writer, what advice would you give beginners for finding their style? What helped you figure out your style? Let me know in the comments below!
Good day, goodnight, and happy writing!