A writer’s voice is described as the syntax, the diction, the punctuation, and the grammar you choose to string words together. Oh, but it’s so much more!
The definition from above could also describe a writer’s style, which any fiction author can (hopefully) cite is based on the Chicago Manual of Style. But that’s style. So, then, what the heck is voice?
Your voice is you. It is the part of you that is free. It is unrestrained. It doesn’t have rules or guidelines. Sometimes your voice doesn't have civility. Sometimes it is kind beyond measure. It is authentic and a liar, funny and somber, insightful and in denial, humble and having too much hubris. In short, it is the essence of being human.
Beginning writers might have a difficult time figuring out their voice. But often authors who have been writing for years struggle with figuring out when their voice wants to change. So discovering your voice is just another step in this journey to being a writer. And here’s three tips how to find your voice.
Watching a baby learn how to talk is one of the most thrilling things a person can experience. A baby mimics. That's how we all learn how to talk. The baby watches someone else, listens intently, and learns, then copies.
I strongly encourage writers to mimic your top five favorite authors. It may sound counterintuitive when finding your own voice to mimic someone else. But it's while observing others that we learn ourselves best. We watch, analyze, learn, then copy. While we’re mimicking, we learn what we don't like and what we do, what feels most comfortable and what doesn’t.
Sometimes mimicking another writer inspires our creativity. Sometimes, though, it can be annoying because your voice wants so badly to come out and play. And that’s when you let it loose and invite it do it’s own thing.
Listening to Others
I have one friend who I’m probably going to embarrass by mentioning her, but she is by far the best listener. My lovely friend Lana listens and after just a few utterances from me, she knows exactly what I’m talking about. EXACTLY. It’s uncanny because Lana can get to the heart of a matter even if I’m not clear what my problem is. I’m so blessed to have her as a friend!
Listening to your family and friends and even strangers is one of the best ways to discover your voice. Yes, listening helps with diction and dialogue. But truly listening to another, which means putting yourself in their shoes—sympathizing to the point of empathizing, is an art.
Always try to empathize with another. How would you feel if your daughter was recently diagnosed with autism and your family doctor thinks autism is a phony diagnosis? How would you feel if your husband was sexting another man? How would you feel if your best friend died? These are just a few questions where instead of asking, “How would you feel if your friend’s daughter was recently diagnosed…”, I put YOU in the picture. This is the very heart of writing—putting YOU into the scene. Only, it’s not quite you because, as a fiction writer, you’re writing about a beloved character. However, a reader always knows the difference between a writer who can put her own emotions into the scene versus when she’s guessing what emotions a character might feel. Listening and empathy makes the difference between good writing versus fantastic. It also makes the difference between a mediocre friend versus someone you can always count on.
Listen to Yourself
“This above all: To thine own self be true.” —Shakespeare.
Being a woman and having so many friends that are women, I find that listening to ourselves might be just about the hardest thing for a person, let alone a writer, ever do. Actually, I know several men who have problems listening to themselves too. And listening to ourselves can be difficult because sometimes we have a million things running through our heads at the same time, we overthink our own problems, or under-think them, and often we just don’t give ourselves enough time, period.
In order to become a writer, though, you have to find the time to listen to yourself. Yes, bouncing off your problems to a close friend is important. But just as important, perhaps even more so, is learning how to become that great listener to yourself, having compassion for yourself so you can vent and put everything out there. You don’t have to only have a problem to listen to yourself. Becoming a great friend to yourself means you’re also listening when you’re having a great time too. It means being there for yourself during the good times and the bad.
But what does listening to yourself mean? Here’s a story to help clarify: There are two birds on a tree. They are parents, preparing to have their little baby. One is flying around, picking up twigs, figuring out the structure of the nest, if it’s warm enough, if there’s enough food, and generally worrying about the storm that happened last week and if something similar might happen again. Then there is the one sitting on the egg. She’s watching her partner flitter and flap about, proud of her spouse for getting everything done, but she’s just watching, not judging, just watching everything. Within our brains we have the bird who gets things done, and, man-oh-man, do we need to get a million things done in this day and age. But also within our psyche is the observer. She doesn’t judge. She’s there watching, listening, and learning.
Was that too hippy-dippy for you? If it was, just focus on the part where there is an impartial observer within. And that’s who will listen, listen intently, and who we learn from.
ENEMY OF MINE:
Kidnapping mortals to different eras is such fun. Trickster muse sisters, Clio and Erato, call it a glimpse, but military historian Minerva Ferguson, Erva, is fairly certain she’s gone nuts when she wakes two hundred miles from her apartment. And two hundred years in the past to Brooklyn, 1776. In an unfamiliar manse, during the American Revolutionary War, she’s not too sure how to regain her sanity. Especially when she realizes whose mansion she’s just woken in, the one British general she studied more than anything else, Lord William Hill.
When Will hears Erva’s screams of panic, he breaks down a door to save her, even if he can’t quite remember why she’s visiting. She calms, though, the instant she sees him, as if they’ve known each other for eons. From the second he sees her dressed in a toga made from a bed sheet to later when she’s with his troops, wooing them with her musket skills, he realizes he’s smitten. But he’s a weary soldier, shrouded in grief, while she reminds him of a sun goddess. Is she too good for him? Lord, how he wants her to want him.
How could Erva not fall for a guy who accidentally quotes a Cheap Trick song? But now she has to get to the bottom of if Will is really a rake, how to stop one of the most important battles of the war, and lastly how to stop her insane crush on the general. After all, he’s going to die in less than a week.
The muses have to work fast for this glimpse. But that’s when they work best. And as explosions erupt through New York, sometimes it’s not from the artillery.
"Ms. Jameson has a hit here with her first installment of "The Glimpse Time Traveler" series!" -InD' Tale Magazine
"Those muses should have their own television show!" -Angela Adams, author of Magic Moment
"LOVED this book from the first word. It was suspenseful, romantic, historical, funny....." -Cat, from Amazon Reviews
"This is a great time travel book! It's creative plot includes interfering muses, the imminent death of the hero, and the revolutionary war. Will a great love influence history for better or worse? With a surprising ending (which I won't give away) I think you'll really enjoy this book!" -Amazon Customer "SG"
"LOVED this book!! This book will give all the ladies a case of 'Red Coat Fever.'" -Rebecca Bird, from Amazon Reviews
EXCERPT FROM ENEMY OF MINE:
“Why are you—” She stopped herself again. This time she bit her lush bottom lip and looked away.
“Why am I what?” He should have let her question falter, but he had to know for himself if she were a spy or not. The more questions she asked, the more she would reveal herself.
The anomalous thought flittered through his mind though that he wasn’t too sure if he cared if she were a spy.
She glanced back up at him, her eyes wide and timid. “Why are you here?”
That, he hadn’t expected. A spy would wonder about his men, his drills, his arms, anything else that mattered to the war. Not a philosophical question about why he was here. But even the reason why he was here could be used against him, if court martialed. He hadn’t realized that thus far. Then again, he’d thought he wouldn’t have survived this long in the war. In his mind, he would have no reason to be court martialed. He wouldn’t be alive for it.
She licked her lips and slightly shook her head. “I mean, you didn’t vote for any of the acts the Americans protested. The newspapers said that you didn’t support any kind of action against the Americans. You don’t support this war, yet here you are. Why?”
“Why not?” He tried to deflect the conversation.
She narrowed her eyes, no longer looking sheepish but challenging, ruthless, and so lovely. He liked her best like this, shooting faster than most of his men, speaking of sedition to his superiors, the Howe brothers. Lord, how he liked it when her eyes caught fire and turned back into dark red-brown honey. His veins pumped his too hot blood through his body.
“Why not, hmm?” She gave him a wicked smile. “Why not, indeed. I think you don’t want to be here.”
“On the contrary, there is no other place I’d rather be.”
She blinked, then caught his meaning that standing so close to her was exactly where he’d love to be. Arching a blonde brow, she said, “You know what I mean, obtuse man.”
He silently chuckled at his new name.
“I think you don’t want to be in this war.”
He felt his own mirth leave his face. “You might be right.”
“Then why are you here? Why do you fight? Especially so efficiently?”
She growled, making Will grin again. “Quit evading the questions with your own.”
“Why? This is fun.”
She smacked one of his shoulders, then he caught her small hand in his.
“Is this fun for you too?” he asked, carefully gauging her reaction as he twined his fingers through hers.
She didn’t look at their hands. Instead, her gaze was focused on his chest. He especially enjoyed that, as if she found him desirable. Lord, he hoped so, that he wasn’t making a fool of himself.
She never answered, but looked up at him, her long lashes batting. He took hold of her candle and set it on a nearby table. In so doing he’d gotten that much closer to her, and just as he was thinking of holding her other hand, she reached up, probably on her toes, and kissed him.
This time he reacted immediately. His lips melded with hers. She tasted strongly of mint, and he licked the seam of her lips to enjoy. She opened for him, and he dove his tongue into her mouth. God, she was sweet. Her arms wrapped around his neck, and he pulled her closer by holding onto her not-corseted waist. Next her tongue was inside his mouth, and he couldn’t help but pull her even closer, her stomach against his, her breasts crushed against his chest.
Will felt Erva fiddle with the ribbon at the nape of his neck, and his hair was released from its hold. Instantly, her hands raked through his mane. It gave him silent permission to finally take hold of her tresses with one of his hands. Pure silk ran through his fingers. He loved her long hair, so wild and free this moment. Like the color of corn silk, Erva’s locks were close to white with a light dandelion sheen. He fisted what he held, which tilted her head back, all the better to deepen the kiss. She moaned into his mouth. All his blood rushed south. That little noise was his undoing.
ABOUT RED L. JAMESON
ABOUT RED L. JAMESON
Red L. Jameson is an award-winning and multi-published author. She writes in many genres. Her pen name, L. B. Joramo, includes the odd combination of historical and paranormal for the Immortal American Series. However, it is under her “Red” name, her nickname too, where all her stories are strongly laced with love, including contemporary, historical, time-travel, paranormal, and erotic romance. Red lives in the wilds of Montana with her family and a few too many animals, and is currently working on her next novel that she hopes will make her readers laugh, cry, think, and fall in love.
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Amazon Author Page: http://goo.gl/Gvd2vq