Find your voice. That is probably the most common piece of advice every writer is given.
To me, voice is defined by genre. The writers we love fall into specific genres, (unless they’re just unusually talented and can write across multiple platforms).
I have finally found mine.
Here’s how I did it.
A Major Discovery
I’ve been writing a lot of short stories, one every week to be exact. A few weeks ago, I wrote one about two friends who decided to explore the grounds of an abandoned mental hospital and met their demise at the hands of something sinister. I submitted it to a year-long short story challenge I am doing and I got some pretty good feedback.
The novel I finished that I am currently working on getting published also has a lot of suspense. I started to look back over all of my writing during the past year and noticed something: all of my stories have a suspense/thriller element to them.
Yesterday, I stumbled across an article in my Google Cards feed about about the top 100 “killer thriller” books and something in me clicked. That’s it. I have found my voice.
What Do I Do Now?
As writers, we have to write a lot. And read a lot. Now that I’ve found my genre, I’m going to read all the thrillers I can get my hands on. Why? Because when you want to become the best at something, you study the masters. That’s not to say I won’t read other genres again. Don’t be silly. But right now, I’m going to read thrillers. And I’m going to start with the list in that article I just told you about.
There are 100 books on that list.
I printed the list out. I highlighted ones that I already have on my bookshelf but just haven’t gotten around to yet. I have six of them. That’s a good start. I’m going to cross them off as I go. While I’m reading those, I’ve got a few books on how to write thrillers that I’ll be reading, starting with How To Write A Damn Good Thriller by James N. Frey.
Now, if you know me, you know that I not only have two bookshelves full of books I’ve purchased that I plan to read, but I also check out a lot of books from the library. A lot. I refuse to tell you how many I have checked out right now. And yes, I read them all.
But my goal is to master thrillers so I took most of them back to the library yesterday. *gulp* I did keep a few that are thrillers. I’ll read those before I start tackling the ones on the list.
The weekly short stories I post on Mondays will be experimentations in writing thrillers. I’m going to implement what I learn from reading about how to writer thrillers and throw in techniques I notice in the novels I read. This is going to be so much fun!
I’ve even decided that this character who has been swimming around in my head is going to be part of a series. I’m still working on who she is and her backstory and trying to figure out what kind of things she’s going to get herself into, but I’m sure she’ll reveal herself to me as I delve deeper into the world of thrillers.
What’s That? You Say You Don’t Know What Yours Is?
Don’t stress over it. Just keep writing every day. Pay attention to what makes you tick when you write. Go back and read your stories and look for a common thread. I’ll bet your voice is in there somewhere, just waiting for you to discover it!
It’s Your Turn!
Have you decided on a genre yet? I would love to know what it is. Leave me a note in the comments and let’s chat!