Every author has a narrative voice. It's what keeps readers coming back for more. It is that distinct and unique writing style only they can pull off, either through their characters or plot. Your narrative voice makes your book easily recognisable by your readers.
The narrative voice is not bought, inherited or transferred from author to author. It is an internal gift: your author's identity card. However, discovering it is not an easy feat: it takes time, patience and consistency with your writing, and of course, lots of reading.
But what happens when you lose your narrative voice? Is that the end of your writing dream? Does that mean anything you write from now on is trash? No and no.
Remember, your Narrative voice is inside you, it may be quiet, but it’s there. Like Writing Coach, K.M Weiland affirms, "Your voice is like you in several ways:
1. It already exists.
2. It’s a living, evolving thing.
3. It’s not the same as it was five years ago and it won’t be the same in another five years.
4. It just is: you can’t create it, and you can’t banish it; you can only refine it."
So how you rediscover your Narrative voice?
- Know why you write
Before taking on a writing project, you have to know why you write. Is your writing inspired by real-life events, a personal experience, or to express your opinions on a specific concept? Or are you merely interested in making your readers laugh, cry and go out of their minds? Knowing why you write helps you develop a strong narrative with your unique style.
- Consult other Authors in your base
Now that you know why you write, check out other authors who write a similar genre. Observe the plot, character voice-which point of view is most suitable, most common troupes and overall story structure. You may decide to try something new for your story, but make sure you know the essential elements that have worked for other authors.
- Create a strong and consistent voice for your Characters
One of the excellent ways to showcase your narrative style is through your characters. So when creating characters, make them real--perfectly imperfect in every way. Or, as K. M. Weiland advised: “Don’t worry about finding your narrative voice. Instead, worry about creating great character voices for every story.” Give them realistic goals, then place obstacles on their paths. This would keep your readers at the edge of their seats, praying and hoping that your character makes it to the end.
- Be consistent
Writing is all about consistency. You can't be a writer without writing, and you can't be better without practising.
You can also expand your narrative voice by trying out other genres and points of view: If you’re known for romance, try thriller or sci-fi; if you’re used to writing literary fiction, try popular fiction; if you’re into short stories, attempt a novella or even a novel. Do not silence that new strange idea that may come up for it can be a medium of growth for your writing dream.
You should also observe your use of dialogue and narration; which one do you use more, and how? Are your conversations long or short? Do your characters use slangs? While narrating, do you use a lot of figures of speech? Which setting do you use, urban or rural? All these contribute to the growth of your narrative style.
- Don’t be too hard on Yourself
Losing your narrative voice doesn't make you less of a writer; giving up does. And one of the many ways you can lose your voice is by copying someone else's. If you're into Romance, you may want to be the next Nora Roberts or the next Stephen King. Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) and John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) are both Teen fiction authors, but each has a unique narrative style that makes them stand out. So when you feel like you’re losing a grip on your art-or experiencing writer’s block, try re-inspiring yourself by reading books on writing, visiting writing blogs or re-reading your old works.
Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet states that ‘good writing takes time, and developing a writer’s voice can take even longer.’ So keep listening to your voice, use it proudly, and never stop refining it, one story at a time.