Today, I welcome New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jasinda Wilder to kick off the first in my new blog series, Finding My Voice.
Finding one’s voice as author depends on many things – the genre that you write, the era and location your novel is set, the expectations of your readers, and how you the writer can bring these things together to create an interesting, cohesive and compelling story. Each Friday, your favourite authors will join the Creative Conversation to discuss how they found and developed their voice, what obstacles and challenges they’ve faced along the way, and why they craft their stories the way they do.
To start us off on this exciting journey, it’s over to Jasinda Wilder:
The Heart of Writing
What sets apart decent writers from great storytellers? Voice. Style. This isn’t something that can be taught, or learned, or imparted. It’s something you as a writer have to find on your own; the only way to find it is to read voraciously and write prodigiously. When I discovered the joy of books, in early elementary school, I started myself on a lifelong journey of discovery. What I read isn’t important to this discussion, not so much as the fact that I did read. I absorbed book after book after book, and that hasn’t stopped. I still read nonstop, even when I’m in the middle of writing a book, which is all the time, pretty much. All the books I read as a kid and a teenager—and into my early adulthood—set me on a course that would determine the kind of writer I would become. And then, as I started to become interested in writing, I started reading with the intention of finding my own voice. I would read a book, and if I liked it, I would think about why I liked it, what set it apart, what made it special.
When I started the habit of writing every single day no matter what, I started putting into practice the things I gleaned from reading. When I found an author whose voice resonated with me, I would mimic it in my own writing. Over time, I discovered a rhythm of my own, sequences of phrasing and favorite words and turns of phrase and sentence structure, all those things that make my voice distinctive to me.
Voice isn’t about being different, it’s about being you. It’s about finding the writing style that defines you as a writer. It’s more than vocabulary, or syntax, or any of those things, but it uses all of them. You have to master those things and make them an instinctive part of your writing process and style. You have to know how to vary the flow and rhythm of your sentences, how to find the perfect word for the context, when to break a paragraph, when to break a chapter. And the only way to know how to do any of that is to write.
People ask me for advice all the time, and my advice is always the same: WRITE. WRITE. WRITE. Nothing takes the place of practice and repetition. In the words of Macklemore: “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint/the greats were great because they painted a lot.” Talent, he means, cannot take the place of practice and determination. Write with intention. Practice different techniques: practice describing a character effectively and clearly in as few words as possible; practice varying your sentence length and structure; read authors who write in the style you want to imitate; practice the deletion of words like “that” and “very” and “extremely”, and cheats like using adverbs instead of effective phrasing.
These are the heart of writing: practice; intention; determination. So you want to be a writer? Write. Read. Repeat.
Jasinda’s newest release, Alpha, is due 29th April, grab your pre-order now!
Preorder from Amazon here