Finding Your Voice Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

writing voice, finding your voice, writing a story, jerry b jenkins, successful authorsA short while ago, I was contacted by someone working with Jerry B. Jenkins about him posting at our site. !! When a prolific and successful author reaches out to YOU, it’s kind of surreal, and you jump at the chance to learn whatever he can teach.

I wasn’t disappointed. This 40-year writer of over 190 books (including the crazy-popular Left Behind series) has put together a solid blueprint for how to write a book in twenty steps. One of the points was particularly intriguing, so he agreed to let me share it with you.

Step #13: Find Your Writing Voice

Discovering your voice is nowhere near as complicated as some make it out to be.

You can find yours by answering these quick questions:

  1. What’s the coolest thing that ever happened to you?
  2. Who’s the most important person you told about it?
  3. What did you sound like when you did?

That’s your writing voice. It should read the way you sound at your most engaged.

That’s all there is to it.

If you write fiction and the narrator of your book isn’t you, go through the three-question exercise on the narrator’s behalf—and you’ll quickly master the voice.

“Voice” is one of those things that’s somewhat nebulous and ethereal; we all know it when we read it, but few people do it well and it’s hard to say exactly how to accomplish it. Jerry’s approach makes a ton of sense to me. He goes into more detail about it in a separate post, where he describes the time he met his future wife, then drove to the gas station where his best friend worked so he could spend half the night telling him about her. He segues that narrative into how you can apply your own memory to your voice when writing a story:

Imagine yourself sitting your best friend down and demanding their full attention, insisting, “Listen, have I got something to tell you…”

THIS. So much, people. It’s about intensity. It’s about passion. The story itself is so important that IT MUST BE TOLD. Like an electrical current traveling through a wire, when the story is that important to you, the intensity and passion will pass from you through the viewpoint character(s) to the reader. (On the importance of The Reader to your story, see Step #12: Think Reader First. But that’s a post for another time.)

writing voice, finding your voice, writing a story, jerry b jenkins, successful authorsMastering voice isn’t easy. It takes a lot of research to know the characters well enough that you understand why the story is important to them personally. It takes a lot of practice to maintain that engaged tone without letting it dwindle away into blah-ness. But knowing where to start is often the hardest part. And I think this approach to finding your voice may be just the ticket.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this method. And because voice is something we all struggle with, please share any other techniques you’ve found for doing this successfully.

And while you’re pondering, you should know that Jerry’s How To Write A Book blueprint is available for free. Depending on where you are in the journey, some of it may be elementary, but you’re sure to find a few worthy nuggets to apply to your own process. Oh, and by the way, IT’S FREE. You can read it here in full or scroll to the bottom of that page to download your own copy for keeps.

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About BECCA PUGLISI

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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7 Responses to Finding Your Voice Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

  1. Voice takes a while to find. I think I found it on my fourth book. The other three were 100K word writing exercises and will never see the light of day.
    Don’t be discouraged if your writing doesn’t sound like you yet. It takes time and practice. It’s all part of the process. You’ll know it when you find it because your writing will sing.

  2. Marie Miller says:

    Voice is the essential part of telling your story. When your voice is passionate about your characters and what makes them interesting then your readers will journey with you until the end, then I believe you have found a voice that suits your story-telling. I’m a newbie writer, and I have just finished my first draft, but in writing, I became the characters, the setting, the everything that works to make my readers become a part of my characters’ journey. To make me a better writer, I read everything. Thank you for the info.

  3. :Donn says:

    Voice is definitely something that, even though you may develop it for an individual project, holding onto it for the length of a novel can sometimes be a struggle. For sure, Jerry is someone who knows about it! Great post! 😀

  4. Voice is one of the hardest areas to target exactly what it is and how to bring it out, yet it is crucial for us to each understand how to bring out, as it is what makes our own book “ours” and different from others like it. Thanks for the tip and sharing these links to more information. 🙂

    I love that you have helped so many through your programs. I enjoyed reading how that came about and your passion for helping other writers. That’s a big thing for us, too. 🙂

  5. Mollie Lyons says:

    I can’t see where to download Jerry B Jenkins How To Write a Book. I have gone to the bottom of the page but can’t see anything that refers to it.

    • Hi, Mollie. If you click that link and scroll down, there’s a big box at the bottom of the page that says Click Here. It’s a long post, though. If you scroll past the linked Table of Contents, there’s a smaller box that says, “Want to save this 20-step guide…”. That one is easier to see. Let me know if you have trouble.

    • Sorry you had trouble, Mollie, and hope you’ve been able to access it now. Would love to hear if you find it helpful.

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