Developing your writer’s voice #1

One vital way to make your writing stand out is voice. In many of the contest entries I've judged and manuscripts I've critiqued, writers have muted their natural voice to sound bland and generic.

Writing that's alive with its own distinct vocal flavor is a joy to read. The prose is richer and more vibrant, the characters more three-dimensional--all because the writer opens herself to her own writing style and revels in it.

However, voice can also be the most difficult and slippery aspect of writing craft to discover and perfect.

Raw, creative voice often doesn't result in a polished piece. The key is to first lay down the story with your unhindered voice and polish later.

But how to unleash your voice?

Many times, a writer's internal critic is hampering the free reign of his unique style, but certain exercises can help him lift all restraints, open the cage door, and let the lion roar.

Not all these exercises will work for every writer, but some might enable you to find and/or further develop your voice.

(Most of these exercises are taken from Finding Your Writer's Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall)

Distill your raw voice.

Do automatic or free-writing writing and put it away for a week.

Return to it and pull out words or phrases that grab your attention. Do another free-write with those key phrases, and put it away for another week.

Highlight the passages that speak to you, and delete everything not highlighted. You should be left with writing that profoundly impacts you--your unique voice. If the writing still seems diluted, repeat the process.


  1. Great tips. I wish I had that book when I was teaching students to write for the AP exam!


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