These are my five favorite authors of all time: Tim Sandlin, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Charlaine Harris and Saxon Bennett. I have read everything written by these five writers and am the first to snap up their newest books. At first glance they appear to be an odd assortment without much in common. So, what is it about them that not only makes them the top sellers in their respective fields but that builds a loyal fan following? It’s their voice. I like to read authors who can take a mundane, trite story and give it fresh eyes. Each of these authors has a unique voice, a voice that takes a story and twists it, stands it on its head, shakes it up and surprises me at the turn of every page. Hand me a page with no cover sheet by any of these five and I’ll be able to tell you who wrote it. I don’t care if it’s Carrie, Cujo or The Dark Tower, I’d know King anywhere.
What exactly is an author’s voice? It’s a way of telling the story. It’s the author’s eyes. It’s a way of putting words together to elicit a response. It’s not the story itself. All the plots have already been used. All the characters have been seen. All the settings have been done. But these five authors have a way of telling the story that takes me on a trip where I can experience everything like I’ve never seen it before. It has nothing to do with grammar or style. It has everything to do with their own unique perspective and take on life.
The mistake some writers make (myself included) is not trusting their own unique voice. We all have one. But sometimes (out of fear maybe?) we smother that voice and try to be like what we think we should be like. What we need to do is listen to our own voice. Nurture our voice. Give our voice freedom. Take the reins off and see where that unbridled voice leads you.
Trust your voice. It’s what makes you unique. It’s why people will want to read everything you’ll ever write.