Author ‘voice’ – how you tell your story

An author’s ‘voice’ is the manner in which they tell a story. In the same way that a piece of music will sound quite different when played on a violin compared to a flute (or a song is sung by a choir or a rapper), a story with the exact same plot, characters or setting can seem very different depending on the author’s voice.

Developing your author’s voice helps to establish a writing mode that is uniquely your own. For many authors, their ‘voice’ is exactly the same way that they talk. Over time, the tone, style and structure of an author’s writing may evolve into something that is a completely unique expression of their ‘voice’ (or personality) on the page.

Author ‘style’ – your unique narrative footprint

‘Style’ is defined as the specific way in which we create, perform or do something. For an author, style is the way in which they use words to tell a story. Your writing style will be personal to you. it’s a good indication to readers that this written content is your handiwork.

Style is not something you are formally taught at school, college or university; in fact, you may not even realise that you have a distinctive writing style. In the same way that someone puts together items of clothing and jewellery or applies make-up to create a personal style, the way in which a person assembles words and sentences forms their writing style.
Whenever you vividly describe a situation, you will tend to use certain words and sentence structures consistently for that description; that’s your style. It might be described as articulate, conversational, formal, businesslike, flowery, literary, rambling or poetic.

Your writing style may also showcase a specific genre or subject area where you naturally shine. On the flip side, your writing style may become a crutch you rely on too heavily. You may find yourself repeating the same phrases over and over and not be aware of this writing ‘tic’. This is another reason you should always work with a professional editor – they will review your written work and point out any blind-spots you may have.

Author ‘tone’ – how you convey your intended message

‘Tone’ refers to an author’s use of words and writing style to convey their attitude towards a subject. What the author feels about a particular topic is often defined as the tone, whereas what the reader feels is known as the ‘mood’.

Essentially, your tone is how you convey your underlying message. It might be humorous, sarcastic, unhappy, nostalgic … the list is endless. This is an important concept to grasp because it plays an essential role in determining the way someone is likely to feel after reading your book.

A ‘real-life’ example to illustrate these concepts

When I first decided to produce my book – Let’s Get Published: The Self-Publishing Playbook – my goal was to educate first-time authors by sharing my experience and knowledge of the steps involved in writing and publishing their book. However, I didn’t want my book to be overly formal and contain lots of facts and references. My objective was for writers to enjoy reading the content, as well as gleaning valuable book publishing information along the way. So, I tried to ensure my written words sounded like I was having a  direct conversation with the reader – guiding them along their self-publishing journey.