Book Nerd Guest Post
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Here’s the thing about voice and style: even if it’s unique, I don’t want just one.
Let me explain.
When I first started writing, I had no clue what I was doing. I was just winging it, using the novels I loved as textbooks. I actually wrote two books that way. I had no idea all that I didn’t yet know about structure, point of view, voice, metaphor, emotion, character, etc.
Those first two books were hopelessly derivative.
I could have kept writing that way. Maybe I wouldn’t have ever found a unique voice or style. Maybe I would have just gotten really good at mimicking someone else’s. But that’s not the kind of writer I wanted to be.
So I went back to school.
In my MFA program, we were made to study hard, but we were also encouraged to play, to experiment, to push the boundaries of what we were comfortable with. Trying new things is scary. After all, you might fail. I did sometimes. But I also learned how to channel that perspective that is uniquely mine, those qualities that are essentially me into whatever piece I was working on, whether it was fantasy or memoir, humorous middle grade or a YA novel in verse. Each one of those projects wants a different voice. Each one of those stories wants a different style.
I don’t want to get stuck with just one. I want to write them all.
I come from a musical family. A Crowder, in fact, is a minstrel. If you sit my sister or cousin down in a circle of musicians, they can make beautiful music come out of whatever is passed to them—mandolin, guitar, accordion, banjo, violin, cello—you name it. I can’t even comprehend the mental gymnastics that allows them to do that, but I know when it comes to my writing, to voice and style, I don’t want to always be playing the same strings either.
Here’s my advice:
Push the boundaries of your comfort level.
And most importantly, give yourself the freedom to fail.
Over time, you’ll develop the skill to bring you to whatever voice your story calls for, and whatever style it wants.
A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.
Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.