Six Questions to Answer and Define Your Author Voice


Few beasts in the writing world are harder to slay and control than author voice. It’s that distinctive narrative style that makes readers come back for book after book. When it’s defined, and defined properly, readers will anxiously anticipate your next work as it reverberates a long lost desire within them for resounding prose.

But how does one define author voice? Well, allow the question to be answered with seven more questions. Answer these, and you may begin to get a grasp on what your author voice may sound like.

What imagery will be synonymous with your books?

The imagery you select for your books can help define your author voice. Will your imagery be heavily laden with floral trees, Southern homes built hundreds of years ago, gritty, gear ridden future machinery? Think of the vivid imagery that defines a series you love. There are some consistencies in there, aren’t there?

How will you convey catharsis to your readers?

Catharsis is the feeling you have at the end of a great book, or movie, anything that ends with perfection. When you are overwhelmed with incredible emotion, that’s a good sense of catharsis in a story. Of course, depending on how you want your reader to feel at the end of your book, the catharsis may be different. It could be a sense of hope amid horrid circumstances, or warmth through the love of a friend. There are nearly limitless ways to convey good catharsis, and if readers know that you have a good grasp of emotional strength and convey that in your books, they’ll want to experience similar emotions on a regular basis, by coming back time and time again for you book.

Where will your expertise come through into your writing?

Certain writers create fiction based on what they know and love. Michael Crichton would have so much research, that you’d feel like an expert in whatever topic he had chosen for his books. John Grisham was a lawyer and served in the House of Representatives before he began writing novels. When you have a background, or expertise, and embrace it, it can help your author voice be so incredibly defined that readers will look to you to become the definitive voice on your selected topic.

How will personality play into the narrative?

What is your personality? How would that play into your writing? Think about Hunter S. Thompson. Fewer writers are better examples than he is to look at a writer’s personality oozing from his written works. Whether you are quiet and contemplative, or exuberant and lively, embrace your personality. Because if that’s how you feel as you write, it will come through in your pages and help define your author voice.

Why have you chosen your sense of style?

Ian Fleming conveyed a strong sense of class and sophistication through his James Bond novels. Jane Austen looked at societal ranks and exposed the flaws and strengths of both. Their narrator language elaborated on the sense of narrative style that they created time and time again, as both have written an inordinate amount of novels. So let a sense of style enter your book(s), convey a consistent presence to build the world of your narrative.

Who will readers relate to through voice?

Is your hero a reflection of yourself? Is the villain the same? Oftentimes heroes and villains are two sides of the same coin. Magneto and Professor X, The Narrator and Tyler Durden, Rick and the Governor, they both share common threads, but the subtle differences define the reason for their separation between ideals. So who, in your book, will the reader empathize with, relate to, or understand their own life’s journey as a parallel to the narrative trek of the character?

Answer these six questions, and you’re on your way to defining your author voice. Thanks for stopping by, chime in with the comments section. The conversation’s always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler, and keep checking my official website for the latest updates. Thanks so much for taking on the Writer’s Conquest.

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