Ink & Bourbon
Tilting at windmills. Because those windmills think they're better than us.

Embrace Your Voice

Friday, January 12th, 2018

The thing that makes me fall in love with an author is the voice. The way that a writer uses language, chooses the words and the pace and the tone. If I like the voice, I’ll read about the characters doing their taxes.

Plenty of writing sites and lots of writing advice will try to steer you toward the “right” way to write. Don’t exactly ignore them, but understand why the conventions exist, and feel free to bend them to preserve your voice. Terry Pratchett wouldn’t be Terry Pratchett without his distinctive voice, but the man loves adverbs and speech tags, which current thinking says are worse for you than gluten, refined sugar, or using dirty needles

Let’s be honest. Most plots aren’t new. We’ve been saturated with movies and TV and books enough that most readers can spot the tropes, read the trend lines and tell where the story is going. We’ve already met all the stock characters. Most of what we read isn’t breaking new ground.

There’s nothing wrong with that. A story isn’t bad because it’s familiar. There’s a reason that it was popular in the first place. If we stopped retelling stories, there would have been no point in writing a political thrilled after Alexandre Dumas, or a detective story after Conan Doyle. Maybe the technology has changed, but the story is essentially the same.

What you do have that is your own is your voice. Write that heroic rescue and don’t worry that D’Artagnan or Flash Gordon or Luke Skywalker or Katniss Everdeen has already done it. There are only so many ways to scale a castle wall or have a swordfight.

But there are an infinite number of ways to paint that picture.

Don’t let anyone stifle your voice.

Embrace it.

And don’t sweat the gluten or refined sugar. You’ll be fine. You may want to avoid the dirty needles though.

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