Trust the Power of Your Own Voice

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The Writer's Book of Wisdom

Recall those books you love, from poetry to historical accounts, and think about the narrator's voice.

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It's what draws you in, an establishment of trust through keen language. Think Huck Finn. Think Holden Caulfield.

Of you many concerns about the craft, the least is voice. You hear a young writer say, "I'm trying to find my narrative voice." How silly. What he just said was in his narrative voice. Write like you talk.

Or imitate someone else. You can read an author for an hour or so and experience the "imitative impulse," where the sound of that voice actually shapes the style of your thoughts. And you find that your writing may sound like whomever you're reading. Melville sounds like Shakespeare in Moby Dick because he was steeped in the Bard's plays at the time.

You could do worse than sounding like Shakespeare.

Your models, however should be living writers, and we are blessed with so many first-rate stylists today. Pick one. And challenge yourself to work that well.

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