Don’t Give Up Your Voice
As a writer, finding your voice can be one of the hardest steps to jump as you’re hoofing your way up the giant staircase from beginner to published.
One of the potential issues when joining a critique group is the problem of giving up your voice and taking on someone else’s feel and style. Usually your altered voice will come from the strongest member of the group or the one that makes the most edits on your manuscript.
Don’t let that happen. Fight for your freedom. Your individuality. Your voice.
Five steps to avoid losing your voice:
1. Sit on your edits for at least 24 hours.
2. Ask yourself, “Would my character talk that way, act that way, or make that decision?” Then accept or deny other people’s suggestions accordingly.
3. Reword your edits until they “feel” right. You’ll know. Especially if you’ve been inside your character’s head long enough.
4. Ask questions. Look for specifics–sometimes when I edit, I can’t fix the problem in someone else’s voice, so I do it in mine and then tell them to rewrite. I say, “This is what I’m looking for, but I know it’s out of voice.”
5. Ask for examples. Brainstorm with your group over awkward sentences, out-of-character actions, weak wording. Ideas are like rabbits–they multiply in a group.
What if you haven’t found your voice?
It’s in there somewhere. Play around. Free write in different genres, with different characters. Write as a male and a female. Try your voice as a child, teenager, and adult. Change Point of Views. Write first person, then third person. See how it feels. Your voice will begin to stick out and flow more naturally. Let a few people read your free writing and ask them what seems to flow better. Above all, don’t give up! There’s someone inside of you dying to come out and share.
What helps you find/keep your voice?