Finding Your Voice

Awakening the Author Within: Day 4
Finding Your Voice

An author should find their voice once they have found their audience and the subject matter they wish to communicate. Once that happens, finding the perfect voice to communicate that message in is a little bit like dating. A perfect match needs to be made between a voice you feel comfortable writing from, and a voice your audience is most likely to understand and feel comfortable with.

And just like any good date, there is a “getting to know you period.” So as you are finding your voice, invite it to dinner, or coffee,  and sit down and ask it some questions.

Question One:
So… Voice, what is the question or problem you are attempting to answer for your audience?

In the land of literature, questions and problems fall under two categories:
internal or external.

If the question, or problem, you are attempting to answer for your audience is internal, you may wish to use a more subjective voice; a voice that contains feelings.

If the question or problem you are attempting to answer for your audience is external (physical) you may wish to use more of an objective voice – a voice that doesn’t contain feeling, but simply describes.

I tell my students that this voice is a lot like a video you may have on your phone with the volume turned down, or looking out a window. You can see what the person is doing, and describe it, but you can’t tell what the person is thinking or feeling.

Question Two:
So what is the topic that you are writing about?

If the topic is about one’s self, or some supernatural event, more often than not, that subjective (feeling) voice is going to be used; although, I have found that pulling away from one’s self and writing objectively, as an outsider, can also provide a deeper insights as well.

If the topic is about nature or technology,
a more objective, or descriptive voice, will be used to describe it.

If the topic is about Society, it will depend upon your purpose. If you are analyzing an issue within society, you’ll want to use a more objective voice. If, however, you are criticizing or promoting something in society, a more subjective voice will be used.

Question Three:
Voice, what genre are you going to write in and what do you hope your readers will feel after they have read your piece?

A fictional piece will take your readers an emotional, figurative-language filled journey through their imagination, while a nonfiction piece will will take your readers on an analytical, detail focused tour through their left-brained mind. Poetry will leave your reader with a powerful emotional punch that may leave a repeating ditty in their mind in the form of a sound bite.

Question Four:
What kind of personality does your reader tend to have?

This is where I have found that looking at the Myers Briggs Personality types can be quite insightful. It provides not only a possible answer to what genera to write in, but also provides even more details. click here for a chart on different personality types.
For example: will your voice be…

sincere or analytical?
warm and gentle or cold and harsh?
short and succinct or long and elaborated?
independent or dependent?
reserved or exposed?
spontaneous or predictable?
flexible or inflexible?
sensitive or insensitive?
intellectual or emotional?
outgoing or introverted?
playful or serious?
optimistic or pessimistic?

Question Five:
Where does your audience live
and what do they like to do for fun?

The voice of a five-year old
is going to be different from that of a voice of a fifty year old.

The voice of someone who loves science
is going to sound different from someone who only focuses on religion.

The voice of a sports caster
is going to sound different than a musician.

The voice of a high-school drop out
is going to sound different than the voice os someone who is college educated.

Most people write in their own voice, but stopping to take the time to match the voice with the message with audience will help ensure a match, future “dates” so-to-speak, and perhaps even a marriage. So that your audience will want to keep reading your stuff again and again and again.

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