It was great to hear everybody's opinions on genre and cliche. As promised, this next post is less philosophical and more practical. My favorite chapter from Cathy Yardley's Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel concerned voice -- that unique aspect of your writing style that differentiates your writing from others. It's sometimes hard to figure out what your voice is, and I liked Yardley's ideas for identifying it.
1. Analyze Your Writing Yourself Yardley suggests going through your writing and highlighting anything that grabs your attention. Do your characters have witty and quotable conversations? Does your narration use colorful or realistic descriptions? Do you tend to write in formal or colloquial language? Once you have things highlighted, you can look for trends. "That's going to be your voice,your best selling point.", says Yardly. "That's what you should be emphsaizing in query letters, synopses, and in your novels themselves."
2. Get Volunteers to Analyze Your Writing For You If you have trouble with part 1, try getting a group of people who enjoy your genre and have them do the same thing. You can get a group of writers and have a voice finding party! Interestingly, Yardley emphasizes that this is not a critique session. All feedback should be positive and encouraging.
3. Tape Yourself Talking Make use of modern technology and record yourself telling a story. Then go back and analyze what you hear. What kind of words do you use? How much exaggeration vs. straight out description? Do you make the listener feel peaceful and comfortable, or do you get her all riled up?
4. Priming Your Voice If you want a particular flavor in your writing, Yardley also recommends priming your voice by reading something that will influence your writing style. Recent guest blogger Peta Anderson once told me that she uses this technique. Before she works on her current work-in-progress, which has a teenage boy narrator, she reads other fiction with teenage male protagonists. Actually, Peta has a great series on her own blog on finding your voice. Go check it out!
Have you identified your voice? What makes your writing uniquely yours?