Over the weekend I read Allison Brennan's speech about finding your author voice. (Thanks Lynnette for the link to this.) I took a few things away from her speech. One, that she wrote five manuscripts before she sold. And the second was that the key to getting published (in her opinion) was discovering her voice.
Now, we've heard about voice, I've talked about it here. But what I liked about her advice was that she believes our author voice is already in us, we just have to recognize it. After trying out a few different things, she realized that her voice was naturally dark and fit well with suspense. She tried to write a chick-litty mystery and discovered she wasn't so funny on paper.
This got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing) about my own voice. My YA is dark paranormal, or at least that's what I set out for it to be. However, as I wrote it, I found myself with a heavy thread of romance that threatened to take over the story. I also kept slipping in humor and snark at every turn. Not exactly what I was going for, but I couldn't help myself. In addition, it was a fight for me to keep things not too sexy, because it was teens and I knew that wasn't appropriate.
So then I started my contemporary romance. All of a sudden, I didn't have to fight all those natural tendencies. I had free reign to focus on the things that I love writing about. And the book was so much more fun to jump into. It was like slipping into a comfy pair of slippers after trying to wedge my feet into stilettos for months. I found my voice.
Now I'm not saying that with my voice, I can't write YA or something outside of romance, but I need to probably go for a different type of story than I did with the first one. One that lends itself to my strengths. My strengths (based on crit buddy/beta reader comments) are humor/sarcasm, building sexual tension, dialogue, and creating characters the reader connects with. I can work with that.
So when you start stressing about voice, look in the mirror (figuratively speaking). Who are you? Do you tend to see the darker side of things or do you find the humor where others don't? Are you a hopeless romantic or a realist? Are you polite or irreverent? Your voice is already in there, you just have to unearth it.
Don't you ever read a book and think, I could hang out with this author? We know based on how they wrote the story and their characters that we'll probably enjoy their personality. We're hearing their author voice bubble underneath all of it.
So how about you? How would you describe your author (not your character) voice? Have you written a story and realized it didn't fit your natural voice and style? Have you ever read a book and thought, me and this author would get along?