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How to Find Your Voice: Using the Right Voice for Your Story

Voice is one of the more challenging aspects of story writing. Voice can be seen as the particular mixture of tone, syntax, word choice, and diction that smoothly express the author’s or the characters’ emotions, point of view, and personality. Voice is an important feature of a story that can affect the way it is read and interpreted. A powerful voice captivates the readers and urges them to continue reading while helping them connect with the writing. In order to develop a good voice that appeals to your readers, here are some considerations to take into account as you write.

1. Understand the difference between the character’s voice and the author’s voice.

The character’s voice is the way a character talks and thinks in a story. Each character in your story has their own way of using words and phrases that expresses their personality. Dialogue and internal monologue help distinguish between characters because no two characters think or speak alike.

The author’s voice is your writing style and the way you tell the story. The diction, syntax, tone, subject matter, character choice, and attitude you use are ways your voice can be expressed in your writing. The way you pace the story, address topics, and convey your message through the telling of the story are also attributes of your voice. This can usually be seen through your story’s narration and how it describes the characters, sets the scenes, and moves the plot forward.

2. Determine the point of view the story will be told from.

Voice can also be supported by the point of view your story is written in. If your story is told through the first-person perspective, it is told using a character’s voice as if you are in the mind of the character. The events of the story are determined by how the character (whose point of view the story is told from) perceives, interacts, and reacts to the world around them.

A story in the third person is mostly told using your voice. Third-person limited looks in on your story with a little more distance from the characters, but the story still focuses on a particular character and their interactions, observations, and reactions to their situation. This point of view can move between characters, but your story only has deep access to one character’s inner thoughts and emotions.

Third-person omniscient has a broader range, allowing the story to explore more than one character’s emotions, thoughts, and reactions. In third-person omniscient, each character should be handled with depth and importance so that each character's voice can be conveyed as they interact with one another. However, in both cases of third-person point of view, you are ultimately telling the story and controlling where it should go.

3. Recognize the difference between written voice in a story and the way you talk in real life.

It is important to remember that the written voice is not related to how you talk. People often stumble, ramble, and speak incoherently. Written voice is driven by sensory details and conveys deeper emotions and meaning in a concise manner by making use of every word so that none are wasted. Written voice is doing more work than normal speech by having the task of bringing images and feelings to life because there's no added use of body language or spoken pitch to aid in communication.

How you want to engage with your readers or have them observe your story is dependent on the voice you use. Hopefully, these tips will help you get a better grasp on the voice you will use in your next story.


About the Author: My name is Grace Takeda, and I’m currently a senior at the Johns Hopkins University. I’m a Writing Seminars major who also has a minor in psychology as well as marketing and communications.


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