Finding Your Voice

Regardless of whether you are writing a blog or a novel, you need to find your unique “voice.”

In fact, putting your personality into your prose is the “secret” to getting published, writes legendary writer’s writer Les Egerton (his post on how to create a remarkable writing voice is a must-read on Kristen Lamb’s Blog).

Les knows something about memorable storytelling; he’s the author of Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go and Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality into Your Writing. He advises you to write simply and clearly, and to watch your word choices.

“If you can identify more than five percent of the language you used as being essentially foreign to your normal usage, then you’re not employing your own personality on the page,” Les states.

Les isn’t the only expert advocating that writers find their authentic voice. Joy Tanksley, a middle school English teacher and a life coach, who blogs about living a joy-filled life, last December shared four steps to finding your ideal writing voice. The post, which appeared on  Copyblogger, drew 188 comments. Joy advises that you:

  • get into the flow
  • write like you talk
  • forget conventions (at least at first)
  • write what you know

I think Les and Joy are onto something. My expert blog interview tomorrow is with someone who MOST DEFINITELY gets the concept.  Describing himself as a “reformed journalist” and a “scribbler of speeches,” Guy Bergstrom is the witty wordsmith behind The Red Pen of Doom.

This blog takes conventional wisdom about writing and turns it on its head –making it  “a place for writers of all types — novelists and journalists, speechwriters and screenwriters — to strip away the window dressing and theories, to get down to the essential guts of all good writing. Which really is editing and structure.”

Boldly going where few editors — and even fewer bloggers — have publicly gone before, Guy takes a red pen to the opening page of Ayn Rand’s 1943 novel, The Fountainhead.  One of the few places left untouched by his editing marks is the book’s short opening sentence: 

Howard Roark laughed.

I approve of this. It asks a narrative question – who is this guy, and why did he laugh? – and I like short sentences anyway. writes Guy.

Blog visitors soon learn that Bergstrom hates semi-colons and that his blog began randomly after his used car ad to Craigslist was yanked after two weeks. He promises to never be boring.

Guy’s been true to his words (check out this funny video on blogging – typical fare on The Red Pen of Doom). In the process, Guy has drawn a solid following, including Canadian poet David Weedmark, who calls Guy’s blog “informative, funny, blunt and quirky [and a] must if you really give a damn about language and communication.”

Check out my post tomorrow when Guy shares five sure-fire ways to build a blog following.