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Dear Editor: How Do I Find My Writing Voice?

—(Originally appeared in Publishers Weekly)— In this month’s column, BW founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, describes what an author’s writing voice is and how to discover it, in response to a reader query. Dear Editor: Any suggestions on how can I can begin to find my voice as a writer? I’m new at this…. [Read More]

Dear Editor: Finding your Writing Voice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

—(Originally appeared in Publishers Weekly)—

In this month's column, BW founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, describes what an author's writing voice is and how to discover it, in response to a reader query.Dear Editor: Finding your Writing Voice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

Dear Editor:

Any suggestions on how can I can begin to find my voice as a writer? I'm new at this.

—Madeline C.

What Exactly is Your Writing Voice?

Your writing voice is you on the page; it’s that simple. Your thoughts, your feelings, your values, and how you see the world—put them all together and there it is, your voice. You haven’t lost it. It’s right where it’s always been, deep inside you. As an author, you just need to access it.

“Your voice is simply the way you, the writer, project yourself artistically,” write Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall in Finding Your Writer’s Voice. “It is how you write when you don’t have time to be elegant.” The trick is to get in touch with that voice—to recognize it when it appears and then be willing to do the hard work to develop it.Dear Editor: Finding your Writing Voice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

My advice? Practice, practice, practice. Be playful and experiment boldly. Keep your prose fresh, avoid clichés, and fiddle around with alliteration, metaphors, and similes. Make your nouns specific (the St. Regis instead of the hotel, a Hyacinth Mccaw instead of a bird) and steer clear of adverbs as much as possible.

Tune Into Yourself, Tune Out Other Voices

This is what Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, a creative writing teacher at Columbia University and the author of Mother Tongue, suggests to her students, “Look within and listen to yourself. Tune out other voices giving you advice. Let go of fear. This is a process, day after day. Remember that you have freedom. Once you identify the unique gift you have to give, the tone, the rhythm, the intensity of your voice will start to speak to you.”Dear Editor: Finding your Writing Voice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

The secret is practice. And the good news is that when you find your writing voice, you’ll know it. Hallelujah! There it is—just where you suspected it might be the whole time.


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