There are millions of love stories that have been written. So many of those stories are somewhat predictable. Yet we gravitate toward the passionate pull of the human experience. The same can be said about books on leadership development or the entrepreneur’s journey. There are certain characteristics that are similar across stories, but people flock to the pages anyway. What sets these works apart? An authentic voice.
Finding Your Authentic Voice When Writing a Book
Finding your authentic voice can be difficult at first. Especially because, when you really think about it, everything you are has been influenced by other factors. Your values, your beliefs, your dialect, and even your choice of words. These things are byproducts of the socialization you’ve experienced up to this point in your life.
Where do you find the you in your writing? Start by writing a paragraph or two about a childhood memory. Imagine you are telling this story to a stranger who has never met you before. What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to take away once you complete your depiction? Once you have your paragraphs, invite a friend or family member who knows you well to read it. Ask them if it sounds like you. If it does, you’re on the right track. If it does not, ask what sounds foreign to them.
“Leaning into your authentic voice will help readers trust you as a writer as they progress through your story.”
The Difference between Writing a Book and Giving a Speech
Some of the best storytellers out there are exceptional public speakers. They’ve mastered the art of the dramatic pause and know just the right phrase and vocal intonation that will get a reaction from their audience. The catch is that a speech does not translate the same way as a written story. Unfortunately, you have no control over intonation beyond descriptions. The bulk of the visual imagery is left to the reader’s imagination.
Why is this important? First, your authentic voice may be that of a presenter, but your authentic author voice is going to sound different. Secondly, when you do not have control over certain aspects (like your voice, dramatic pauses, or even the lighting in the room), you have to rely heavily on sensory detail in your story. You want to make your readers feel something, believe you, or learn a new lesson. To do so, you need to not only establish a clear and consistent voice throughout your book, but also take your speech voice and break it down to little details.
When Is It Okay to Stray from Your Authentic Voice?
If you are writing fiction, your authentic voice may take a different direction than if you were writing a non-fiction work. Your characters will have different voices. Your writing style will match your genre. For example, a historical fiction book is going to have a much different voice than a young adult high school love story. Even in fiction, you are still being authentic in your book writing journey! You just have the poetic license to play around with different voices.
You also may want to alter your authentic voice if you’re working on a fictionalized memoir. Some authors decide they want to tell a very important story but fictionalize certain parts to remove themselves from the heart of it. This paves the way for abundant creativity, but also invites you, the writer, to sound like yourself but slightly different…as if your authentic voice is wearing a literary disguise.
The Importance of an Authentic Voice in Book Writing
While there are many different stories that share similar characteristics, you are an individual and completely unique. Therefore, your voice is unique. Leaning into your authentic voice will help readers trust you as a writer as they progress through your story. Your bold authenticity can transform your creative journey in new and exciting ways. Above all, you put your distinctive and personal voice into the world for others to experience like no other.