Thursday, January 14, 2016

Create Your Own Voice

I often hear writer friends proclaim that they want to be the next Stephen King, or the next JK Rowling, or the next whoever-is-great-and-famous.  I get that attraction - these are authors with proven track records of both success and talent.  Any of us would be fortunate to achieve what they have.

However, don't make the mistake of thinking that theirs is the only path to success.  If you've read King, Rowling, Turtledove, Foster, Zahn, or any great writer, you'll note that each has his or her own distinctive style.  Even within similar styles, each has his or her own voice.  Indeed, it's because each has a voice that is separate that each has succeeded.

The point here is to develop your own style as a writer.  Figure out how to best tell your own story, and how to get the audience to appreciate it.  If that means a great deal of dialogue, then so be it.  If that means frantic action with breathtaking descriptions, so be it, so long as it works for you.  Yes, you'll adjust your style as you write over the course of years, but it has to be something you own rather than a cheap imitation of what someone else has done.

This is not to say that you shouldn't study great writers(yep, here I go again with the contradictory advice).  It only makes sense to look at how the most successful in our field have done things and learn from them.  Where it goes too far is when you try to use their talent as your own.  You should seek to establish your own voice in the writing world, for only then will you be able to achieve great things.  Stephen Curry doesn't try to be the next Michael Jordan - he tries to be the first Stephen Curry.  His mindset is that he wants others to emulate him some day instead of remembering him as a great copycat of the best.  And that should be how each of us approaches this whole writing thing - to be imitated by others one day instead of remembered as an also-ran.

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