Knowing Your Voice

If I could pick any singing voice to be my own, it would be Karen Carpenter’s. It’s effortless. Her deep alto voice has a richness that my own voice will never have. I sing soprano – not like the angelic choir version of soprano. Think of the obnoxious kid pulling tight on the end of a balloon as the air rushes out. Can you imagine that awful screech? The one that makes dogs howl and little kids plug their ears? Ya,  that’s a little closer to what my upper register sounds like.

But Karen. Oh, Karen.

Carpenters_Alb_Christmas Collection_1

The Carpenter’s Christmas album is nearly a religion at my house. If you don’t love it, we’ll just play it over and over until you can’t get it out of your head. In summer time, when I’m missing Christmas desperately, I sneak her CD in my car and play it for a couple days (yes, days). I sing along, pretending I can hit all the low notes.  Deluding myself that I nearly sound like her.  If only.

Being a “young” writer, I catch myself doing the same thing with my voice in writing. Each author has their own voice – their own “sound.”  I don’t have the pensive rhythm of Lois Lowry or the vibrant descriptions of Stephen King. I don’t have the soothing voice of Chris Van Allsburg or the bubbly joy that Kevin Henkes brings to his writing – but I do have a voice. One that is unique to me. If we try and write like someone else, we’ll be called out eventually. The successful authors know their own voice and create works that showcase it.

What have you done to help yourself find your authentic voice as a writer? How does knowing your voice as an author differ from knowing the voice of the main character in your story? Please reply. I’d love to hear your comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Knowing Your Voice

  1. Ah, the voice, one of my many struggles with writing. I’m still finding mine, changing it several times and never sticking. Sometimes I do try and adopt the voice of another author, but it feels forced and I wonder why I tried to do that. I’m a perfectionist, so even if I write something that sounds natural to me – and perhaps the voice I’ve been searching for – it still doesn’t feel RIGHT. It may just be me, but when writing a different genre, for example, my voice or style can change to match.

    It’s all very confusing for me. I think, out of fear or having far too high expectations, I don’t allow my voice to show itself. For all I know, my voice could be staring me in the face and I just haven’t noticed yet. As for my own voice and a characters, I use elements that I find intriguing, like complicated characters. One’s that have a rich and tragic backstory, who swear and have powerful traits like anger – which is very different to myself – is what differs the two. If that makes sense.

    Sorry. I’ve rambled on a bit. (But how do you see the difference between your voice and your characters?) Great post, by the way.

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    • Thanks for commenting, Kat.

      I think you are going through what we all go through. I like to think of it like when I was a kid and would record myself on a tape player and play it back (*age spoiler*) – I always thought, “Do I really sound like that?”

      Readers will sometimes recognize our voice faster than we do – but if we keep at it, and take notice of the repetitive comments on certain aspects of our writing, we’ll begin to recognize what we sound like.

      My personal give away that I’m writing in my “authentic voice”? It’s easy. It comes without beckoning. I suspect that’s the case with you too?

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      • That’s very true. And yes, a few weeks ago I just sat down and wrote a short story without thinking of how I wanted to sound a specific way and managed to write 5000 words in two days. Looking back, a voice is taking shape, but it still has a long way to go before I can officially say I’ve found my true voice. In the past I would’ve been annoyed by the fact it hadn’t manifested in that one sitting, but now I know it can take years to find that voice – it’s all experience and learning, so it isn’t wasted writing. 🙂

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