We all heard about writer’s ‘voice’. Voice is the lens through which the reader sees the story, and speaks of the author’s style as nothing else can. Getting comfortable with your writer ‘voice’ means becoming less self-conscious about your writing. But what really is this ethereal concept? Is it something we consciously develop? How long does it take to settle into your voice? In this episode we answer these questions while providing actionable advices on how to experiment with yours.

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Transcript for Strategic Authorpreneur Episode 055: Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Crystal Hunt: Hey there, strategic authorpreneurs. Welcome to episode 55 of the Strategic Authorpreneur Podcast. I’m Crystal Hunt.

Michele Amitrani: And I’m Michele Amitrani and we are here to help you save time, money, and energy as you level up your writing career.

If you find this show helpful, you can help us keep the episodes coming by clicking to the buy us a coffee button on the website and the show notes.

Crystal Hunt: In this episode, we are going to be talking about finding your voice as a writer, but first as always a quick update on what’s new in our world. Michele how has Italy been treating you? 

What has happened since the last episode?

Michele Amitrani: It’s treating me well. Summer has officially began and it’s not necessarily fun when it’s 30 or 35 degrees outside, but we do what we can, or we do what we must do as writers.

So I’ve been waking up a bit earlier, like around five in the morning to get my writing done, at least a couple of hours. If I can get those couple of hours done, I am happy. And I know that I’m not going to be able to write afterwards because it’s going to be simply too hot. And I think you’re going to be adding something about heat, when it’s going to be your turn to talk.

But yeah, it’s hot here in the Rome, so we’re trying to basically cope with it as we can. And I’m very excited because I have commissioned the quote-end-quote, last of my novellas cover to my designer. The title is a Scion of Gaia and I’m looking forward to see what’s going to come up. It’s the sixth one.

And I feel like the hype is very high. I love all the covers the designer was able to do so far so I’m really looking to see, what he’s it going to be up to. Also to the same designer I also commissioned a couple of paperbacks for the collection of my first three novellas.

And this is going to be a first for me because he’s going to be the first paperback version of any mythological fantasy collection I add. I’m excited. I’m a bit worried that something might not work. It’s been a long time since I have uploaded a paperback. So I want to see how it goes.

Hopefully everything is going to be fine. I’m also writing a couple of non-fiction books in Italian. And those are part of a trilogy. Hopefully if everything goes well and I don’t melt in the meantime, they’re going to be published in August or September. And reading-wise, I’m reading a book called Structuring Your Novel: Essential keys for writing an outstanding story by K. M. Wayland. And I’m really enjoying it. I’m already 20% through the book. It’s very interesting and I recommend it if you are interested in writing a book more on the plotting side, I would say. And I am not, that’s why I need to read more of these books.

It’s very interesting and I’m really having fun reading it. And what have you been up to Crystal? Up to this couple of weeks? 

Crystal Hunt: Well, uh, it has been interesting here also on the weather front we have had legit heat wave, which for west coast of British Columbia is not a thing that we see on the regular.

So it has been even hotter than it is Rome. We had got up to 43 degrees celsius, which is, for our American friends, 109 and a bit in Fahrenheit. Which is way too many degrees. We’re not equipped for that here. Most people don’t have air conditioning at all, and it was interesting to see screens just shutting down and we could not get by without the fans and the portable AC stuff all running to keep everything safe. Communities here were opening up cooling stations in public buildings. So people could go into air conditioning environment to stay safe if they needed to.

So it was really interesting… it was almost 10 days where we had really elevated temperatures. And even now it’s still very hot. So we have been doing similar things, waking up very early, sleeping in the afternoon. I spent a lot of time in the middle of the night awake actually. And when it was cooler and I could read or write or do whatever I needed to, and then sleeping during some of the hotter times.

Super disruptive to routines. And it’s always an interesting adventure to find out, basically how well we can adapt when we need to. And we really can. So I think that’s a really good experiment to do every now and again is just shake things up and see what happens. And things that happened was I have been writing a cozy mystery, which is totally not usually what I write. But combination of factors. One of the other reasons why we’ve had a bit of a break from the podcast is that my grandmother actually passed away. And I’m going to say unexpectedly because she was super healthy, feisty 91 year old woman in what appeared to be perfect health. So we were all a little bit surprised.

But. She was quite a character. She… and that really came out as we were doing the zoom funeral thing and all of that. And all the people who were talking about her and the impact she had on their lives. And she was a school teacher for over 60 years, she taught home-ec and she was also the librarian and super into genealogical research.

She, as one of my cousins said, loved her murder. She was all about watching murder programs on TV and solving puzzles. Wicked good at the crossword and a total card shark. So that’s yeah, that’s definitely been an influence over the last few weeks is just processing that and thinking about how do we want to remember her and how does all that work?

And so for me as a writer, always these things tend to come out in characters, in books. And so the cozy mystery thing is a little bit of a nod to grandma’s love for solving a good puzzle and definitely working some of those bits and pieces into some of the mystery stuff that I am working on. So I’m having some fun with that and it’s also a good way to process grief and, memories and do a bit of immortalization in that way, which I feel like as authors, we have a really cool opportunity to give another life to the people in our lives and we can weave them into our stories whenever we can.

That’s been a very fun, very healing exercise, and also just a break from the usual. For me as a writer, it’s a bit of a palette cleanser as I’m diving into the next wave of what I’m writing. Historically, I always had a vacation in the summer and another one in the winter, and I would spend those writing when I had my day job.

That was my time. That was totally free time for me to just do whatever creative project. And a lot of the books that I’ve written have come out of those kinds of vacation times. Now that I’m writing full time there isn’t quite the same vacation, but I’ve decided I’m going to implement a vacation in the sense that I can write whatever book I want, whatever genre I want.

It doesn’t have to have anything to do with my business plan or what I intended to be working on. And so that has been a really good exploratory adventure, we’ll say in terms of starting really from scratch and I had registered another pen name and which is still my name, but a variation to be for mysteries and cozy mysteries.

And we’ll see how all that shakes out, but it leads directly into today’s discussion point because finding your voice as an author, is a really interesting process. And when you start from scratch in a genre, that’s not what you’ve been working on primarily, you really do have that opportunity to raise your voice for the new set of things or for the new characters and the new stories and see what your voice is going to be like in that area.

We’re really going to dig into that and Michele has done something similar with shifting genre a bit over the years. And I think just digging into that a little bit more of what is voice and how does it develop and what role do we play in that as often it impacts what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, would be really interesting.

So that is today’s focus of our conversation is finding your voice as a writer and all things to do with that. So Michele what is an author’s voice? If I say that to you, what do you think of, what does that mean to you? 

What is an author’s ‘voice’?

Michele Amitrani: So Crystal, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And I’ve been thinking about this, this way.

There are many things that makes writing, at least for me, there are many components. I found that as the more I write, the more I can identify some of them more easily. So for example, something like pacing, characters, description, plot those things they have a description. Now this description can change for the author, but there are some other things, some of the concepts that I think are a bit more different. They are more like shapeshifters, they change a lot. And I think voice is one of these things, voice and theme, the theme of a book. So today’s episode, I think it’s very interesting because it’s one of those things that you really don’t have a unique answer. When it comes to writing usually you don’t have a unique answer anyways. It’s not math. It’s more like art. There are some things that works always if you can get more, a better pacing of your novels, or a hook at the end of every chapter, those things can help. If your characters, they seem to live out of the page, all of these things they can have, but when it comes to voice is really difficult even to define the concept. And I’m sure my definition is going to be different from your definition, and from any other authors definition. I really like what Hugh Howey said about voice in one of his article, he has a blog post and he wrote an article called “So you want to be a writer…”

Long story short in this article, there are 10 points in which he says, these are the things that helped me become a successful author. And the last of the 10 points was voice. And I just want to read a very short brief out of this article, where Hugh defines what he thinks of the voice. He says: “What the hell is your voice?

It’s how you write when you aren’t aware that you are writing. Everything else you do is mimicry. Self awareness is the enemy of voice. When you fire off an email to your mom or best friend, you are writing in your voice. When you blog, you will begin to find your voice. Your voice will change the more you read and the more you write. That’s normal, it’s still your voice.

Why is voice important? Not because it will land you an agent. Or because your works will win literary awards. No. Screw that. Your voice is important because you cannot enter a flow state without it.” 

Now the article goes on and on about the voice. And it says very interesting things about what he thinks to be his own voice.

We use Shakespeare to define the way he writes. And I think this is a good conversation starter. It’s really, because. When you grow up, maybe when you’re writing and you’re 47, your voice is going to be different or slightly different from when you were maybe 35 or 34, or when you would be 75. It’s not something that stays the same.

And I think it also changes on the general, if you’re writing a dark fantasy or if you’re writing epic fantasy, it changes and it shifts. And I think this is what I think is important to point out about the voice Crystal, that is not like a concept that you can just define. You can go to Wikipedia and you can read the definition and you are good to go.

And by the way, there is a definition of voice on Wikipedia. It’s not that simple, and I’m really excited because I want to know what do you think about your own voice and what do you think might be helpful for listeners when they think about their voice? 

Crystal Hunt: Well, I think the comment about your voice is what happens when you get out of your head and you just let the words flow is a really interesting one.

And certainly I think the more we’re thinking about what we’re writing and trying to, adhere to genre and conventions and all of those things, it definitely does remove you from what you hear in your own head. And so that is a really interesting thing to think about. I didn’t really realize like how much I was filtering my voice until I started sending out newsletters to my romance reader list, actually.

And one of my friends who’s known me for years in the author community, but always through my nonfiction and stuff, said to me one day, oh I love getting your newsletters. It’s a really interesting character you’ve created for CJ Hunt. And I burst out laughing and I was like, oh honey, no, that’s me. That’s me without the like professional filter. 

And so that was a really interesting moment in thinking about voice and I realized as I go back to my writing, that it really is that removal of a filter. For me, because I’m writing what feels very natural for me or resonates really well for me, the less I pay attention to what I’m doing in the sense of that conscious awareness and trying to construct sentences and things.

The closer I get to actually finding my own voice and one of the conversations I remember having with different writers at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference was place and, asking people how many books do you think you have to write before you really find your voice? And most people were like, oh, 10, 11, like a lot before you actually figure out who you are as a writer.

Because with each thing that you do, you get closer to being able to just hit that flow state and kind of drop into the writing and feel confident enough in what you’re doing, that you, aren’t second guessing yourself, all the times. And the other piece I think is, we read in our Shaun was often a lot to try and absorb the conventions and to get used to the idea of certain types of stories.

And then our natural instinct is to mimic what other people are doing at the start. And until you use that up, it’s like when you’re brainstorming the first 10 to 15 ideas that you brainstorm are just going to be what everybody else has done enough that they’re top of mind for you. And so you dumped those first 10 or 15 ideas, and then you’ve got to go past at least 20 ideas, like the point where you’re struggling and it feels like you’re really pulling teeth to get those additional ideas before you’re really hitting something that might be uniquely you, because we have… it’s called an availability heuristic in psych speak.

And that is we recall things that are easily available to us, which means the more familiar we are with them, the easier they are to call up and language is no different from that. The way that words have been used in the past, by different authors that we’ve read, or the ideas that come together in certain genres or the voices of these main characters that we see on TV or in books.

All of those come together in our brains, in what is the easiest to access format that kind of floats around the top. And so it does make it a little bit tricky to find your own way of putting all these things together. And I think that’s maybe why it takes those, 10 or 12 books to really sink into your own voice.

It’s just like the brainstorming, you’ve got to use up those things that come immediately to mind in that first sense. And so Michele, I think it’s really interesting to talk about your actual voice as a writer for a minute, because I’ve read almost all, I think of your books, not the Italian ones. My Italian is limited to about five words, but the English ones, I think it’s a really interesting study in how a voice develops, because even though your science fiction and your fantasy stuff or your mythological fantasy stuff is quite different in terms of the genre there’s still something that indicates it’s you. And I know for me, when I read your stuff, there’s like certain lyricism in the English that I think it’s coming from the Italian, as your base language, that there’s a certain flow to the language and a certain way of putting things together. That makes it feel very, I think lyrical is the right word and there’s a certain kind of poetry in it that you may or may not be consciously aware of. I don’t know that’s necessarily what you’re trying for but it comes through interesting way that really makes those stories feel like you, like when I read them, I can put it together. If it was a blind contest, I feel like I could probably still pick out what was your writing.

And I think that means you’re getting voice. I think that means that, if you can’t be fully anonymous anymore, when you submit to a contest or something, it means you’re doing it right. It means that you have nailed something that is more you than anyone else. So let’s talk about how and where you think that comes from. And are you even aware of that? You know, if I said, do you think you have a voice? What would you tell me it’s made up of or consists of? 

Michele Amitrani: Yeah, I love when you said it’s something that basically you have to write them more to figure it out. I think with most of things in life, even I think with the loved ones. We fall in love, but we get to know that person a bit better as we spend time with him or her.

I think with writing, it’s the same. But it’s just, you feel love, or you get to know this thing, quote unquote, which is your writing, which is part of you, but it’s at the same time, something you don’t know, you’re not familiar, so you have to exercise it. It’s like a muscle. The more, you know, it, or like going to the gym, the more, you know, it, the more, you know,  where you can push yourself.

And I think voice is similar. I know I can do some things now, compared to a couple of years ago because I’m more aware of part of myself as I arrived that I was not aware a couple of years ago when I wrote Lord of Time, for example, I think you were mentioning too that a fantasy. science fiction kind of project, I got many people saying that the concept was good. That was interesting, and that was fresh, but at the same time, the language was stale because I did not have a real deep understanding of the language. I still believe I do not have it, but I love when you pointed out something, which I’m noticing now, actually, which is since my first language is Italian somehow, I don’t know exactly how, but it’s seeping into my English. So even though I do not know all the grammar rules that goes and tied up the English language well, it might not be a negative thing one hundred percent. It might be negative for my editor and my beta readers, because I can get them crazy. I don’t know how to formulate some sentences, but at the same time, this lyrical component that you found it is, I think because some of the italianess seeped into the English writing.

And to answer your question about the voice, I think it does change in time and I also think you get more self aware of it. So you know what you can do and, you know, okay, I wrote something in my first story and in my second story, let’s try to push it a bit further. Let’s try to do something a bit difficult, more difficult. You yourself read my last of the six story and you clearly saw a difference in the complexity of it, if you want to.

Voice was part of it. I think I wasn’t aware of it at that moment, but I was trying to do more things at the same time, but at the same time also keeping it more simple and more engaging. The voice since my first novella changed slightly. If you read the Soul of Stone and then you read Scion of Gaia, you will see some differences, but the musicality of most of the sentences is similar.

I have a bit of a better vocabulary now. I know it’d be two more words, but the way I wavered them, as I’m sure you also do, when you write the different kinds of genres, for example, you were mentioning cozy mystery it’s very different from a small town romance, right? I think that also changes with the genre.

And I was reading an article about this actually, about the literary voice developing it and defining it. And in this article also, the writer was Ket, she also had problem defining it again. I think it’s difficult to do. It’s something very difficult to do. But it is something that every writer needs to be aware of.

Not only does change when you grow as a writer, it also changes with genre and it also changes, I think, how you’re feeling in a particular moment in your life. You said, you mentioned before Crystal, you you had a loss, like a family loss, and I think that can be something that influence yourself, influence your voice, or you might even influence the way you are writing something.

The genre you’re riding. The pacing, the characters, all of these things, they are us, it’s you it’s me under these pages. So I do believe voices might be one of those things that changed the most according to how we feel about the project that we are writing in a particular moment. Now it might change for other writers, but I think that definitely happened for me.

And one question related to the voice is if it changes so much, Right? Do you think it can change from the same project? It can change from one part of the book to the others? And do you think it’s something that with rewriting that you can change it or it’s something so innate inside the story that rather we clearly see, okay, there is something different from this part of the novel, from the first part to the second part. Novels can be very big. Do you think, can the voice influence one project? 

Can you ‘voice’ change?

Crystal Hunt: Definitely changes inside of a single project. And the longer it takes you to write a book, the more likely you are to have different voices in different sections of the book. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it can be so challenging in your first couple of books to do the writing and editing is that often with our first book it can take a really long time. We’re thinking about things over a period of years, we start and stop and start and stop.

Not everybody has their first book experience. But I think for a lot of authors we tend to do something over time. And I have this one project, which is my, I call it my transition book because it is, every time I transitioned back from academic writing to fiction, like constantly start doing fiction. Doubt myself, go back to school, get another degree. And that’s a cycle I’ve been in for a really long time. And every time I switched from writing or from academic writing back to fiction, I need to reset myself in that mode. And I, the way I do that is I go back to this book.

I wrote it the first time when I was 16 and I have written it multiple times over the years and I rewrite it and it’s a romantic suspense and, like I said, I started when I was 15. You can bet my voice is a bit different since then. But the interesting thing about going back to something you did a long time ago, or that you wrote half… because I have lots of half finished books in my computer. If I go back to something that I wrote the first half of a year ago or five years ago or 10 years ago, or even just six months ago, it’s really interesting. It feels like reading someone else’s work and there is a shift and you can feel that as you go.

And there are some books that I have read where I have thought, yeah, it was not the same author and I’m making air quotes  It could have been the same person, but clearly something had changed for them in a pretty major way from the time that they started, until they finish.

A good editor can smooth that out. And if you go back over it and you start again at the beginning and work your way through it, it is possible to smooth that out. That’s why the editing process is so important, especially when you’re early on. I think in your publishing career you don’t have the ability to drop into a voice. So that’s one kind of issue is that within a single book, but I think you also get that within a series, which is very interesting, we see a certain amount of drop-off in a lot of cases where readers will read the first few books, but then there’s something missing as you get to the later books.

And sometimes it’s a voice shift in the author. And I think that’s a danger. If you get sucked into a really long-term series that doesn’t allow room for your characters and the author to grow, if there’s not enough kind of change possible inside that. And if your readers aren’t willing to go along with you on that journey of why it might be time to switch series and to actually try something different for a little while, because you need to freshen up that voice.

And if you are not able to move and grow as part of your work, you can stagnate. And I think that flatness is what maybe comes across to readers sometimes as we get fairly far into a series and, our skills grow with every book and our interests change with each year or each season, even that we are alive and things are happening in our lives.

And if we are commercially very tied into a specific genre or series or whatever, and we don’t have the freedom to shift what we’re writing, because maybe it’ll compromise our income, or maybe we have contracts signed that require a certain number of books to be published, whatever that is, you can get almost locked in a little bit as a creative person feeling like you’re stuck in this repeating loop and that if you get stuck in that loop too early, and it was, before you settled into your own voice, it’s like creating media profile, where you are tied to that identity. If you have a pen name and you’ve created a persona for that, and then you’ve got to live that it takes a lot more energy to live in a skin that’s not your own or to be living a brand more than your own self. And so that, I think that works with voice as well, where if you get tied into it, maybe isn’t quite your own it can feel exhausting. I think it can contribute to burnout longterm, if it’s not your kind of authentic voice that you have created, then I think that can really cause some struggle for people. So that’s something interesting. Have you ever written anything where it didn’t really feel like you?

Michele Amitrani: I tried to write a horror-ish kind of thing. The title of that story was going to be Sleep Tight. I think I mentioned to you it was one of the 12 by 20 challenge that never happened. I rewrote that story for 12 times. Because I really liked the concept of the story, but the way I was supposed to tell it didn’t feel like me.

And so it was really interesting that when I wrote, for example, Soul of Stone, which was the first of the mythological of a fantasy novella that I’m releasing, it felt easier. It’s never easy, but it felt easier because it felt more like me. And I remember writing it in two days in my notebook.

It didn’t change that much when I edited it. So it felt more natural, more easy, more smooth. So definitely not, or at this point uh, but I did try.  With Lord of Time it’s more of a dark fantasy. Although it’s difficult to really put the general on. We already mentioned the fact that the first books are usually passion projects.

I would define Lord of Time as one of my passion projects. But in that case, it was a bit more complex and I was interested to the team and religion is a big theme in the book and both of my parents are professor of religion. So I think that’s something like that seeped into the book.

You read it. So you probably understand what I’m saying. So the voice for that book was very different from my mythological fantasy books. And the other thing that changed it was the way I framed the story. Lord of Time and the Omnilogos series are told in third person. Now every single one of my mythological fantasy is told in the first person, narrator. It’s  completely different experience.

And I really feel more of me with this way of telling the story and actually I thought that the writing in the first person was cheating before I tried it, because I thought it’s too easy than the third person to try to get a person, a reader, to be involved in your character if you’re speaking to them. But actually it’s not easier. It’s really difficult because you have to be the character even more. You have to be Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. You have to be Medusa the monster, you have to be Prometheus the Titan, it’s not easy to be a person and to be able to convey these things from their point of view if you’re telling the story from their mouth, from there from their point of view. So I would invite people to start, if you are exploring your voice, one of the things you could do is write in third person narrator or either first person present first person past. I think it’s a good exercise to discover a bit more about your writing skills, but also different ways of entice your voice, different ways of experience and experimenting with your voice and about this I wanted to read just another very short piece from the article from new, we talking about the voice, and I think it’s going to be, is going to be very useful for listeners that want to know a bit more about what finding your voice really means.

Hugh continue the article, ‘So you want to be a writer…’ with this: “When you find your voice, your fingers won’t to be able to keep up with your writing. You won’t stumble, you won’t flail. You won’t sit there wondering what the next best word is. You’ll have an idea, or a concept, visually image, a conversation that you want to convey, and you will know immediately how to convey it.

Your voice will get easier to find the broader your vocabulary becomes. You will have more pieces to slot into the jigsaw puzzle of your prose. Your voice will improve as you study your own writing to see what works and what doesn’t.”

And I think this is a real interesting piece of advice and also experience from a great author in order to let you understand that it really takes time and it’s not something that you are conscience 100% of the time, but if you are aware of your voice, I think you now yourself better as a person and this kind of knowledge seeps into your story and your character, I think, looks more natural, more real, more alive. And I love what you said about the series.

You might be starting with something and then maybe something turns off and the readers will feel it. They will feel it. And I think it’s important to notice that and to try different things, but at the same time, maybe not to push too much, if you feel you have explored further anything and everything you have explored in that particular subject.

And I was wondering Crystal if you have any suggestions that you could give to listeners about finding your voice, maybe I don’t know, exercise or some concept, I know that you read so many things even about neuroscience, crazy kind of nonfiction stuff. 

Finding your ‘voice’

Crystal Hunt: I have a couple interesting things, actually. So one of them is I’m reading the book called Flow right now, which is about the psychological state of flow, which is actually about enjoyment in the thing and the conditions required for that. But it’s a bit of a psychology textbook, but written in an accessible language that you can drop into something and be so thoroughly engaged with it that you’ve kind of time processes differently and you’re just in it, what you’re doing, you’re not conscious of what you’re doing and in the sense of analyzing it as you do it, you’re just doing it. And that is we’re going to actually do our, Just One Thing this month in the Creative Academy is on flow and that particular book. It is by a gentleman named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is a very, very long last name on a book cover and I think I got probably about 90% correct pronunciation. I’ve read the phonetic thing a few times and I’m attempting to get it right.

We’ll see. But it is a really, it’s an interesting book and an interesting concept. So I think anything you can do to drop yourself into that state of flow is going to help you to find your voice. I think the suggestion to experiment with different points of view and find what feels correct is also really interesting.

I there’s an app, which is very cool. If you Google, “I write like” you will find a website where you can paste in a sample of your writing, and it will tell you which of these, there’s a big database of authors, which of those you write like, and so I would highly recommend to take a few samples of your writing from different projects, different times, different genres, if you can, and drop them in there and see what you get back.

And it’s quite fascinating. So for me, it was a revelation because I always thought, oh yeah, my fiction is so different from my non-fiction and blah, blah, blah. If I drop fiction in there, and if I drop non-fiction in there. I still get the same author back. And that’s Cory Doctorow, which is really interesting.

I’d never even heard of Cory Doctorow at the time that I did this first. Cause I think the site’s been around maybe 15 years, at least now it has been evolving, but it’s really interesting that even after all this time, I still get the same person back, no matter what I put into that thing.

And I’ve done that with friends where everybody’s putting things in. We weren’t sure if just small, how easy is it to get the same result and nobody else that I was with got that same result. So it is just an interesting experiment to see how different is your voice from project to project. And, does early stuff change?

And there is definitely some things that I’ve written for clients or books that I go through. If I put them in there, I don’t get that back at the same result. So clearly there is a differente voice. And so that is a fun experiment for you just to do a little bit and see, and really just to feel what does resonate. Michele said, oh, first person feels like cheating because it’s so easy.

I have such trouble writing in first person. I keep trying and, I know that most cozy mysteries are written in first person and I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that. The second, most common is third person, which is probably what I will do because my voice doesn’t resonate. I am not the main character of the book.

When I read, I don’t put myself into the main characters shoes in a book, I read it like I’m watching a show on TV, and I know that that’s very different for different people, but for me it doesn’t resonate authentically. So it feels very hard to do. I try every now and again, I try and I have a couple of story ideas that do sit in my head as first person and I don’t know why exactly. So I’m going to have to look at that and try writing them and see if I can pull it off. 

But yeah, it is just something to experiment with. So if you’re thinking about what does make your voice, so point of view is one of them, sentence length is another thing that we didn’t really talk about, but it does feature in and that’s an interesting thing if you are co-writing with somebody, then you will have a chance to look at your voice is and figure out how you’re going to either blend or how you’re going to maybe each take a separate character if that’s a way to get your dual point of view, to have really different voices for your different characters and that’s one way to do that.

Other elements include things like the language that you use in the vocabulary. Michele mentioned that earlier of kind of the breadth of different words that you know, and can make use of. Are you using words at what level? So you can actually use analysis tools online where you can drop a sample section of your books into an analysis tool, and it will tell you what reading level you are writing at.

And that is also really helpful for knowing for different genres, but just in general, that if you want your work to be accessible to your average reader, you don’t want to be using every second word is a four syllable word unless that is what you’re going for. If your character, maybe you have a really uber smart detective who is always talking over people, then that can be part of your character’s voice and your author’s voice.

You have to be careful that you balance that out so that whatever the voice is, it is still accessible to your readers. If that is a goal that you have, and, trying to be commercially functional, and viable any. What other qualities, I think make up voice. The way that you compose the words, the way that you put them together, I think like Michele said, there’s a certain kind of magic to it or element to it, of the types of characters you make and the decisions they make in those moments can all be part of your voice.

And often you won’t know what that is. Other people will tell you what your voice is to them. And so I guess that would be a final bit of advice is who have books and stories that you’ve shared with other people, ask your critique group, ask your community, ask your readers. What makes my books? Just ask them straight out what do you think are the characteristics that are consistent from book to book? Is it having a certain type of hero or heroine? Is it a feeling that people get after reading one of your books? Is it a certain language, cadence, or pattern of words that you are consistently using? Is it just that people find it really easy to picture your stories in their mind?

That is voice all of those things contribute. And just be yourself, would be the last piece is try to take away as much of those editors instincts as you can and just let the story flow through you onto the page in whatever way it wants to be told.

Okay. We hope you enjoy today’s show. We are in a series on craft and actually writing because an important part of being a strategic authorpreneur is to write really good books. That is in fact, the single most important thing you can do is the writing. And so we are going back to the writing for the next few episodes. And we are going to do a bit of a deep dive into different topics. So if you don’t want to miss out on those things, make sure you hit subscribe anywhere you are listening to the podcast, and you can also visit us at strategicauthorpreneur.com for show notes and links to the resources and tools that we love.

Michele Amitrani: Bye guys, see you next time.