You may have heard the term “voice” in writing circles, particularly when applied to fiction. There are two very different definitions of voice in fiction writing though. The more obvious, thinking of your normal definition of voice, is how the character/narrator of the story comes across in their speech, mannerisms, and telling of the story. They may be funny or strict; talk so fast their words blur together or so slow you have to fight to keep awake; they may have a local dialect (like a Southern accent), a speech impediment (like stuttering), speak in long sentences or choose a high level of vocabulary. Think of the gravely, low voice of Froggy in the Little Rascals, or the breathy voice of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Elmer Fudd in The Bugs Bunny Show with his catchphrase, “Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.” You can define your characters in any way you want to convey the tone of your story. The important thing is to make the character’s voice believable and consistent.
The other kind of voice in writing is the author’s style that conveys their personality and makes their writing unique. It’s the way they write with their word choice and tone. Though your voice may change as you develop your talent, the basis of your voice is already there – it’s part of who you are.
Consider of R.L. Stine’s building of horror in his Goosebumps novel. “You tied me to a chair and tried to drain my brain. OF COURSE, I’m afraid!” says Kat in “Frankenstein’s Dog.” Stine’s macabre writing is often infiltrated with a touch of humor as well which was actually his start in writing.
James Patterson is a diverse writer, succeeding in pulse-stopping adult thrillers to humorous middle-grade novels. “Check out my bulging biceps. Those mosquito-bite bumps on my arms there,” touts Jamie from “I Funny.” In his thrillers, Patterson is known for detailed descriptions, short chapters, and captivating villains.
James Riley likes to create an aura of humor and mystery in his author persona and always stays in character. Check out his biography on Tumblr-he insists James Riley doesn’t actually exist (I’ve met the man!).
Whatever you do, don’t try to change your voice or imitate someone else’s. It will only come across as false. Be yourself and be proud of that! Find the writing style that resonates best with your voice and you will succeed.