Monday, August 3, 2015

Finding Your Other Writing Voice by Annette M. Irby

man with megaphone and computer*

Your writing voice may not be what you think.

I remember a specific class I attended at a writers’ conference several years ago. I even remember the teacher. He’s now a highly respected and sought after editor. He taught about finding your writing voice. His advice: write every day. That’s how you find your voice. Solid guidance. I agree with him. You’ll discover (and hone) your style, your prose, your “way” of writing through the act of composing.

Today, whether you’re writing non-fiction or fiction, I want to discuss another type of writer’s voice, one that only life experience can give us. Here’s what I mean:

What are you passionate about?

One of my previous full-length manuscripts included a thread I hadn’t anticipated. This thread unfolded as I wrote the story, and it turned out I was more passionate about that topic, even though I was writing fiction, than I realized I was. The topic: making assumptions about people without knowing all the facts. (I know none of us are guilty of that. ;) ) As I wrote, that theme presented itself a few different ways and without preaching, (I hope), the story subtly showed the folly of assumption.  
I hadn’t realized I wanted to give voice to that opinion, or how timely that thread would later become in the editing phase of that novel, until I wrote it and reread it.
Your writing voice can be your prose, your style. Or your voice may be a message or messages you’re passionate about.

Have you noticed some fiction writers have a consistent message in their books? They speak to a political situation or a societal problem through story. I can think of at least one author who consistently addresses a specific issue, both in her fiction and in her online presence. I’m wondering if she received the calling to write fiction and then received the message she’s called to address.

Jesus gave voice to His message through story.

You’ve heard it said “So-and-so has a voice” in a certain area. Lisa Bevere is passionate about empowering women toward courage. Shaunti Feldhahn teaches on marriage and gender specific traits in relationships. Dr. Gary Chapman gave us the love languages. These are non-fiction writers who’ve used their voices to influence readers.

Whether we realize it or not, we all have opinions that show up in our fiction. As an editor, I watch for how words, (in non-fiction projects or fiction projects), convey meaning. Did the author mean to express what he just said? Until we analyze our words, or until someone else points them out, we may not realize we already have a voice. But are we intentional?

It’s when we discover a passionate message that the privilege to influence lives manifests because then we can purposefully share that missive with readers.

Your Turn

Have you discovered your passionate message(s)? In what ways are you a “voice?” Have you ever been surprised to find you had a strong opinion about a topic that simply materialized in your fiction or in your online interactions?

Write on, friends!

*Photo credit: Man With Megaphone by bplanet at


Her Nerdy Cowboy

Whoever heard of a bookish cowboy? When Logan McDaniel’s brother-in-law dies, he steps in to help his beloved sister run her ranch. But what does a city boy know of herding cattle? Claire Langley loved her cousin. After he dies, she agrees to serve as a temporary nanny for two heartbroken children. 

Claire and Logan find they share a love of books, and Claire can’t resist the nerdy uncle who is great with children, and who reads to her of pirate romance. Claire’s ailing mother needs her in Seattle. Can she break away? And if she does, can there ever be a future for Logan and her?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby has three published books and 
runs her own freelance editing business, AMI Editing
See her page here on Seriously Write for more information.