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Whose Voice Is That Anyway?

Copyright: Cheryl Wright – All rights reserved


As a relative newbie, other writers told me to find my ‘voice’. Once you’ve found your voice, they said, it will get easier to get published. But what is your ‘voice’? No one could say. What they did say was that I would know when I found it.

Great, that really told me a lot!

I even took a one-day workshop called "Finding your voice." But I still didn’t find my voice, let alone have a better understanding of what it was.

So instead I wrote. And I wrote, and I wrote. Then one day my writing buddy was critiquing a novel I’d recently begun. She looked over the top of the paper and said "I see you’ve finally found your voice."


It took me quite a while, close to two years in fact, but find my voice I did. Or maybe I should make that ‘voices’?

Put simply, your voice is your style, your tone, the fashion of writing you feel most comfortable with. Your voice will carry throughout your story or novel. More than likely, readers will recognise it as being your own unique style.

Editors may decide to buy your book because of it. Or they might decide not to, and all because of your distinctive voice.

Looking back, I see now that my problem was that I write across various genres. For each type of writing, I have a different voice.

How is that possible?

In my own situation, I place myself into the main protagonist’s shoes, so I take on her personality for the life of the story. For example, in my Kelly and Tony Mystery Series, which are all first person POV comedy/crime/romance stories, Kelly Johnston is the main protagonist. She is a private investigator, gun savvy and street-wise. She won’t let men walk all over her, and she’s no lady.

As he backed me up against the wall, his lips covered mine before I could protest.

I was gonna protest. Really I was!

He swooped and my lips were once again occupied. Not that I’m complaining. See, we got this understanding, Tony and me, we sort of flirt a bit, do a bit of kissing – Tony’s a great kisser – then get on with the job.

On the other hand, if you were to read something else I’ve written, you would hear a different voice altogether. Here is the opening of "Arms of a Stranger" - my romantic suspense.

Kareena Ellis slowed for the traffic lights. She didn’t need this. Time was of the essence. She looked about. Everything seemed fine, calm.

She tapped her fingers against the steering wheel. She would be okay, no need to panic, no reason to worry.

A shadow came across her face, and Kareena looked up.

In this piece, you will find absolutely no trace of Kelly Johnston. Why? Because Kareena Ellis is a totally different kettle of fish; her personality is almost the opposite of Kelly’s. Her circumstances are the reverse. This protagonist is in trouble; she’s witnessed a murder and is on the run from the killers. Kelly, on the other hand, delights in finding killers.

And finally, this snippet from "Saving Emma" which will be released January 2005. This short piece is from the point of view of the male protagonist, an undercover police detective.

Women didn’t seem to go much for cops. And undercover cops? That was a whole different story. Gone for weeks on end depending on the assignment, finding yourself in dangerous or life threatening situations; chicks just don’t go for it.

Naturally there had been the occasional girlfriend, but they never seemed to work out. They just didn’t like his life-style. And when they found out his two brothers were private investigators -- that was the absolute end.

A family fraught with danger –- that’s what one girl told him -- so at thirty-two, Gary was still single and not entirely unhappy about the situation. Life as an undercover cop was pretty tough.

Since this last piece is from the POV of a male, you definitely won’t find Kelly or Kareena here. What you will find is another personality entirely. You will find an independent operator, someone who keeps his thoughts close to his chest. But you will also find someone who wants to save the love of his life from being murdered.

Now that you know how to find your voice, discovery will be so much easier. So what are you waiting for?


AAbout the author: Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author and freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner of the Writer2Writer.com website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for writers.  Her publications include novels, non-fiction books, short stories, and articles. To keep up to date with her publications and new releases, visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryl-wright.com


         Last updated: August 04, 2008