No one else in the wide world, since the dawn of time, has ever seen the world as you do, or can explain it as you can. This is what you have to offer that no one else can.
— Edith Layton, The Crimson Crown
Writing is a powerful tool for self-expression, and it’s important to discover what you want to say and how you want to say it.
As an author, finding your voice is crucial to your success. Your voice is what sets you apart from other writers and makes your work unique. When publishing, finding your voice can be especially challenging. However, with the right approach and mindset, it’s possible to discover and develop your voice as an author. The two most effective ways to become a better author is to read and write vigorously!
Avid readers always turn out to be some of the best writers.
For me, starting out, I had no guidance as far as writing goes. All the skill that I applied was from the different books I read. I paid attention to how Eric Jerome Dickey used sentence variation to keep his readers enthralled. I peeped how Ashley Antoinette’s (one half of the Ashley & Jaquavis duo) characters often had introspective outlooks that she used to finesse the reader into relating, therefore caring about the characters outcome. I also paid attention to patterns in majority of the stories I read. Noticing a trend, I wrote with every intention on distinguishing my tales from the average. I wanted to be different, naturally, but I came to find out that this should be every writers goal: to find their own voice.
I say this a lot so this may not be the last time I mention it, but there are a lot of similarities between the music and the publishing industry. Now, a lot of this new music sounds the same for the most part these days because of all this auto tuning going on, but just as rappers have their own sound, so do authors. Snoop Dogg doesn’t rap like YG, 21 Savage doesn't rap like Young Thug, and A$AP Rocky doesn't rap like Pop Smoke.
Make no mistake, not one author tells a story the same as another. You could give seven authors the same plotline and they would deliver seven different stories. And this, my friends, is the beauty of storytelling. It’s not so much the plot that mesmerizes – no, it’s the storyteller. It’s the voice that echoes off the pages and resonates within your soul. The way Zane weaves sensuality into her prose or how Sister Souljah instills a sense of rebellion and resistance, painting her words with the stark colors of reality. Each voice unique, each voice powerful.
In the same vein as rappers, authors also have influences. You might find a bit of the late, great E. Lynn Harris in my dialogue, a sprinkle of Terry McMillan’s wit in my humor, or a dash of Walter Mosley’s suspense in my plot twists. But at the end of the day, my stories are mine. They’re told with my voice, through the lens of my experiences. This isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a necessity.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to draw inspiration from other authors. It’s even encouraged. But don’t get it twisted; there’s a fine line between inspiration and imitation. You gotta learn to take the essence of what you admire about their style and make it your own, not just copy and paste. This ain’t no paint-by-numbers game, this is art.
So, how do you find your voice? Well, it’s a journey, not a destination. Your voice will evolve as you do, growing stronger and more distinct with each story you tell. And it all starts with self-reflection. Get to know yourself, your experiences, your perspectives, and let that seep into your writing. Your voice isn’t something you find, it’s something you unleash.
Just like how a rapper can’t rap without a beat, an author can’t write without a voice. It’s the rhythm, the flow, the melody of your story. It’s what makes your readers bob their heads, what makes them feel the words. It’s the beat to your lyrical prose.
In the words of the iconic urban fiction author, K’wan Foye: “Your voice as an author is your fingerprint. It’s unique, it’s you. Don’t try to suppress it. Embrace it, own it, and let it echo through the pages. That’s how you leave a mark in the world of stories.”
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