An author friend and I recently created our own writing retreat. Neither one of us has had much time to work on our novels recently, so we spent the night at a local bed-and-breakfast and stayed up late drinking wine and writing. We both feel we got a significant amount of work done during this time.
At one point, we were taking a break and discussing where we were in our plots. I mentioned a scene I was leading into, and my friend said, “That’s great! There can be comic relief with some odd characters.” (Sorry, no spoilers.) I sort of laughed, agreed, then asked about her story. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to do what she suggested, and my original idea was much more serious. In fact, my entire novel’s premise is based on a deep emotional wound.
However, after letting it sit in the back of my mind for a bit, I thought, “Why not?” After all, I enjoy reading books that have funny moments even though the overall storyline is about danger or high emotions. Plus, writing should be fun,[added comma] or why am I even bothering with it as a career aside from editing?
I think this moment shifted my writing style. For fiction, I’ve always written meaningful stories that plod along with intention. They’re solid and thoughtful, and nothing’s wrong with that. But I have a wry sense of humor that rarely comes out in my writing. With this revelation comes advice I have for authors, new or otherwise.
When I edit someone’s manuscript, I get a feel for their writing voice. This is important because the author’s voice needs to be consistent throughout the manuscript, especially if it’s nonfiction. Part of my job is to ensure that consistency. I also get a feel for the author’s personality. Are they sarcastic, imaginative, or adaptable? Do they have a sense of humor? These things will all come out in their writing voice, regardless of genre.
Connection To Readers
With voice and personality revelations comes a connection to the reader. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s there. The reader will enjoy your writing more if they associate it with something they already like. Allow your nature to shine through your writing and you will gain a loyal readership following, which will result in those readers recommending your books to their friends.
Writing Should Be Fun
Okay, sure, some writers do it because their job requires it. Authors of technical manuals and medical or court transcriptionists come to mind, yet even those people must like some aspect of it, or they wouldn’t continue in that field. But for those of us who choose this as a career or a side-hustle, it should be fun. It should make our blood sing with energy and fill our souls. Otherwise, what’s the point?
I may not shift my writing voice right away, as solemnity has been part of it for years now. But you can count on me to show more of my quirky personality, including silly or off-beat moments in an otherwise deep and somber story.