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An original voice

I'm preparing to write a book myself (albeit non-fiction). One quote that stuck with me was in the first episode of The Silkworm, Tim McInnerny's character Daniel Chard said: "And I've been in books all my life. A writer's voice is particular."

Can my voice be particular or original if I like certain writers and their styles? I don’t want to feel an imitator or a fraud. You can unconsciously absorb certain techniques or turns of phrase.

Thanks for any guidance.

Kind regards,
Simon Stiel

Asked by: Simon Stiel

  1. Amy Mager on January 2, 2018

    Reading other people's works is one of the tools for any writer, being influenced by others I'm sure will improve your own work. Learning techniques is vital.

    However beware not to compare yourself too much. I'll read a Marion Keyes while writing my book and thinking 'Oh, my novel isn't funny enough?'
    Or a Pratchett thinking 'oh, my novel isn't out there enough?'
    Or a thriller thinking 'Oh, perhaps my book is boring because there's nothing scary?'

    Its easy to get stuck or defeated if you start comparing your first draft to other author's masterpieces. So read for pleasure, soak in the enjoyment, and let it inspire.

    I'm sure your original style will flood through :)
    Amy

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  2. Simon Stiel on December 10, 2017

    Thank you all. I worry about whether my voice is authentic.

  3. Clayton Thomas on November 30, 2017

    Hi Simon,

    I can only echo Lorraine's sentiments. Alot of what you have read has influenced you without you even realising it.

    As long as you are true to yourself it will come out in your writing style. I write fantasy stories and I have reread my work and I can feel my influences throughout. I do not enter into writing and think to myself "How would David Eddings explain this" or even "I should write like Raymond E Feist today."

    They definitely influence my writiing but I have found my own voice. So again echoing Lorraine, just write my friend and do not be too concerned. Just enjoy what comes out.

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  4. Simon Stiel on November 29, 2017

    Thank you Lorraine.

    I was reminded of what O'Brien says to Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty Four.

    "No book is produced individually, as you know."

    I find that true. Do you?

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  5. Lorraine Swoboda on November 29, 2017

    Simon, no man is an island - and no writer is without some kind of influence, even if it was absorbed unintentionally in childhood. Whatever taught us to love reading and writing is picked up along the way from somewhere.

    What we do with that love is entirely down to each of us. Everyone has their own voice, and their own way of saying something. You like the style of a writer, but do you want to reproduce it? Or does it actually correspond with something in your own style, so that your liking is really a kind of recognition?

    Your subject may differ from theirs, and how you approach it may well differ as a result. The important thing is that you find your authentic voice, and use it well. Write from inside yourself, without comparison with that other person's work.

    The one piece of advice I always give is to write with your ears. If necessary read your work out loud. You'll feel really daft at first, but it will teach you what you've written, not what you think you wrote, and to hear how it will sound to another person. By doing that, I think you'll spot any occasions when you come close to copying someone else's style, (if indeed you do), and you'll also find out what your own authorial voice should sound like.

    Simple answer, though - write: it's the only way to find out what will happen!

    Good luck,
    Lorraine

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