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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Is your writing like Julie Andrews, Etta James or Lady Gaga?

Blending Southern and Native American fiction, Lisa Carter writes “Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder”. Her latest release is Under a Turquoise Sky. She is the author of two previous romantic suspense novels, Carolina Reckoning and Beneath A Navajo Moon; and Aloha Rose, a contemporary romance in the Quilts of Love series. She and her family make their home in North Carolina. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, teaching writing workshops, and researching her next exotic adventure. She has strong opinions on barbecue and ACC basketball. Connect with Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

Learning to maximize your voice

Each story has a flow of sound like music. A unique beat, rhythm, tone. Writers, too, have a voice, recognizable throughout their entire body of work. Some singers have a crystal clear quality of tonality like Julie Andrews. I think of it as a bubbling, high arching fountain. Others, a deep, full sound like Etta James with a rich, Mississippi River quality.

Editors and agents look for authors with a strong or unique “voice.” Your writing voice is already part of you, the sum total of your personality and experiences. The indefinable essence of who you are—

Your voice is defined by what you have to say and how you choose to say it.

Writing voice will be determined by—

Gender—Tom Clancy will never be mistaken for Barbara Cartland
Time period—Herman Melville vs. Ernest Hemingway
Culture—Charles Frazier vs. Maya Angelou
Target audience—J.K. Rowling vs. Nicholas Sparks
Area of expertise—John Grisham vs. Kathy Reichs
•Worldview—F. Scott Fitzgerald vs. Francine Rivers

Writers reveal a great deal about themselves—more so than they realize—in the stories they feel compelled to tell, in their empathy for characters they create, in their passion for particular story themes, and the insight with which they develop character actions/reactions.

Your natural writing voice will flow—and overflow—out of the abundance of your individual life journey. It is only out of this—what you know plus a good dose of an innate ability to imagine—that will enable you to write with honesty, conviction and courage.

The story itself also impacts the rhythm or beat of the music. Some novels will start out fast, hard-hitting, leaving you breathless on the edge of your seat as you turn each page. Other books begin at a slower pace with a tease, a promise, building a crescendo of tension or romance.

How to Enhance Your Natural Writing Voice

.   1.    Read—Writers are readers first. Your choice of reading material is often a good indicator of a writing style that resonates with you and what you write. Reading can develop your natural gift and quicken the cadence of your writing “ear.”
2.     Write—Your writing voice is like a muscle. You must exercise this muscle to fine tune and develop the gift that lies within. Write what you see and think and know. Hone your observation skills.
3.     Listen—When people speak, tune your ear to the subtlety of what they’re really saying. Find what’s authentic and transfer that authenticity to your words.
4.     Discover—What is your passion? What do you love? What draws you? More than just writing what you know—write about what makes you want to get out of bed every morning.
5.     Embrace—Find other authors who “get” you and the stories your heart longs to tell. Sometimes it requires a friend/outsider to help you to identify your true voice. Most of us, consciously or not, find ourselves writing book after book that reflect a central life theme/truism for us as individuals. Probably arising out of the broken home of my childhood, the stories my heart wants to tell revolve around creating family, restoration and hope.
6.     Release—Let go of the fear that holds you back from expressing your truest self. Learn to trust your voice. Authority, power and confidence come with the repeated practice of expression. Continue to grow your voice with new experiences; beware of complacence and stagnation.

Strengthen the natural range of your voice—vocalists always begin with arpeggio exercise runs just as athletes develop their own muscle warm up routines. Deepen your characters. Dig down deep to their—and your—emotional heart.

Writing is not for the timid. As one author once lamented, “Every morning I sit down, figuratively slit my emotional veins, and bleed out all over the screen.” Don’t be afraid to confront your personal barriers to truth in voice.

Because if you are unwilling to go to that heart place, you may not have any true song to sing.

Under a Turquoise Sky

When federal agent Aaron Yazzie is assigned to protect the only witness to a drug cartel execution, he hides Kailyn Eudailey in the safest place he knows . . . the vast, untamed wilderness of the Navajo Reservation.

Transporting Kailyn to New Mexico may not be as easy as Aaron would like. Kailyn is a high-maintenance Southern belle who is determined to
assert her independence at every step. Although Aaron's job is to protect her from the dangers that could get them both killed, Kailyn is getting to him. As an undercover agent, Aaron has grown adept at
playing many roles. But will he be able to embrace his true identity and God’s plan for his life in order to keep Kailyn alive?


  1. Good article, Lisa. Finding your voice as an author isn't easy, but once a writer does, they begin to sail.

  2. Thanks for hosting me and Under a Turquoise Sky today, Ane. I love your sailing analogy.

    Anyone have another comparison for identifying voice?

  3. Super job! Lisa, and the proof is in your writing.

  4. Great article and I can't wait to find my voice.


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