Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tips on Finding Your Unique Writing Voice

All jeans are not made alike. You have bootcut, flared bottom, low riders, jeans with Lycra and Spandex, and old fashioned Levis. Most people have a favorite style, I know that I do.

That's the way it is with writers, as well--we're all different with very different voices. And, that's a good thing. There's no one size fits all in jeans, writers or readers for that matter. We like what we like. We write what resonates with us. We should write what we know or are interested in learning more about.

What does voice mean in writing and how does a writer find his or her own unique writing voice? When I wrote my first novel-length manuscript, A Decent Woman, I just wrote it. I didn't know what voice was other than I knew I sang bass in school and badly at that. I didn't know about branding or building a platform and I'm kinda glad I didn't. I might have been overwhelmed! Here are a few tips that worked for me.

Think about why you like to read what you read.
What genres appeal to you and why?
Examine why you like a particular author. Is it the story content, the style of writing or the book's settings and locales?
Get to know yourself through your blog or journal.
How would you describe yourself in a couple of words?
What did you like to do or read as a kid?

I was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mother and an American service member (yes, there's a difference, although we are American citizens). I was brought up in a bilingual family. I'd always had a love of classic Puerto Rican literature like La Charca by Manuel Zeno Gandia (considered by many to be the first Puerto Rican novel) and Dr. Manuel A. Alonso who write El Gibaro. My Puerto Rican grandparents owned two farms in Puerto Rico which I LOVED visiting. I also loved my Spanish classes and my yearly summer vacations on the island with my family. My Polish grandmother and my Puerto Rican grandmothers were great storytellers and I was a great listener. I am very family-oriented and at one time, I researched my family tree on both sides of my family--Polish, Russian, Italian, Canarian (Canary Island) and Puerto Rican. I love great adventure and reading about great adventures, the ocean, the Caribbean islands, history, historical fiction, and family sagas. I love crime drama, am a bit of a feminist, and always thought little girls needed a heroine. As a child, I loved to talk, draw and write stories and songs. As an adult, I worked as a bilingual social worker, a counselor and an alternative medicine practitioner. My sister and I love extreme weather.

Is it coming together for you? It was no big surprise that I would write an historical novel/family saga set in Puerto Rico in the early 1900's, based on my grandmother's lifelong friendship with her midwife. My protagonist Ana was a strong woman, an advocate for women's rights, a mystical and spiritual woman, who explored the idea of decency in early Puerto Rican society. The extreme weather aspect? My first chapter opens during a hurricane. Hurricanes and tropical storms are a way of life on the islands :)

I hope my tips help you explore and find your writing voice and, if not?
Just WRITE! Figure out your voice later. Your unique writing voice will come through writing, reading and writing some more. Good luck!

Peace and love,

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