In the end, the thing that sets you apart you from every other freelance writer is your writing voice. Of course, do the research or get the character and plot developed, but how you present the facts or set the scene is a function of your voice.
Dictionary.com defines voice this way: The distinctive style or manner of expression of an author or of a character in a book.
Voice is the reason why you can write an article on the 10 best ways to cook chicken and I can write an article with the same title, and even use the same recipes, but both articles end up being quite different. Each of us has our own set of experiences which we filter our writing through and each of us has our own, unique voice. Voice is also why popular genres like romance, thriller and mystery books have a definite similarity in plot (boy gets girl, hero stops disaster, who done it), you can read dozens of books in your favorite genre without getting bored; all authors have their own voice. We like some and don’t like others.
Although a writer’s voice comes pretty naturally over time, there are some things you can to develop your voice. Here are 5 tips:
- Write honestly and from the heart.When you write from your feelings, your voice will happen. Of course, you’ll have to rewrite and edit, but allow your honest feelings to surface and show in the finished work.
- Write as if you were writing or talking to a friend. When you’re writing or talking with a friend, the honesty and passion show up. So does the clarity. Clarity, even simplicity, expressed through you will make your writing sing – in your voice.
- Picture your reader. Every time you write, you’re writing for a particular audience. Think how you would address one reader in that group as if they were a friend. Write for that person. When you write for one reader you’ll find it’s easier to let the passion develop.
- Read widely. Writers read and you should too. Read all sorts of things. Get out of your field and read something you’re not inclined to read. Notice the voice your reading. Can you see yourself writing that way? If not, why not? If you think you can, give it a try. As you read and practice stay aware of voice.
- Experiment. Break out of your comfort zone. If you always write articles, try writing a short story, or part of one. If you write mostly for high-end travel magazines, try something for children. The goal here isn’t to break into a new market, although that may happen, it’s to play and experiment and stretch your boundaries. You can even do this with a sentence or two as an exercise.
In many ways your writing voice is automatic. It’s built in. Which doesn’t mean you can’t improve it or enlarge it and develop even more flexibility and resourcefulness in your freelance writing.
Your writing voice is important. For example, read what agent Chip MacGregor has to say in his article, Finding Your Writing Voice. But don’t make yourself crazy – just pay attention to what you’re doing when you express yourself in writing.
Photo by theparadigmshifter – http://www.flickr.com/photos/theparadigmshifter/470341923/