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This is something I've noticed in all of my writings, whether it's an essay, a diary, a fiction or anything else. I tend to start writing in a certain style, then at some point, I will realize that I switched to another one in the course of writing.

The changes happen more or less gradually but will inevitably end up in a dictinct, generally closer to my inner voice, style. Of course, the longer the piece, the more this is prone to happen. Also, I find it very hard to edit such a text afterward.

Is this something common? Is there a way to avoid it? If not, how can I make the best out of this tendency?

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The fact that you find yourself always reverting to your "inner voice" makes me suspect that when you start a project, you are trying to imitate what you think a writer should sound like, instead of creating something unique and true to you. Is the voice that you end up in your true and natural style? If so, I would work on beginning with that style, then being consistent will be easy!

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    Very interesting view on the matter. That would mean that I'm restraining myself at the beginning, then write more and more freely. But is writing freely a better way of writing? That is another (tough) question.
    – Patsuan
    Jul 6 '17 at 14:45
  • 3
    That's true but too subjective to answer. Personally I think that starting with a natural voice, then training it up to its highest potential, results in the best outcome.
    – user25668
    Jul 6 '17 at 14:57
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A lot of the greats did something that is not readily encouraged today: emulation. I did it, and it helped tremendously. In fact, I believe it was the single greatest tool in helping me be a writer. Take your favorite writers--hopefully they're stylists---and copy your favorite passages. Longhand, on a computer or typewriter--whatever. Copy them word-for-word. Do this without thinking of it as work. Copy sentences, paragraphs, entire chapters. I've written hundreds of pages of Journey to the End of the Night. Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson---copy any and all. Copy anything that you like, or even dislike, to get a feel for how it works on the page.

There's something in the brain that is triggered when this happens, you get close to the writing, and, apropos of nothing, one day you will recognize styles in a whole new way, and, more important, switch to them seamlessly.

This is, of course, if you're dedicated. I'm sorry I don't have an alternative: I know no other way to come to art. But to me, this was one of the most important elements of writing. As they say, style is the man.

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  • Thanks for your answer. I'm not appealed by the thought of simply copying books. Do you think that writing pastiche as a writing exercise could do the trick?
    – Patsuan
    Jul 6 '17 at 13:30
  • You want to write for a reason, and that reason came to you because you read. Ask yourself: What do I like to read? What do I love? Emulate that. If it be pastiche, slag, cinder, the work of poetasters, by any and all means, copy it. Get it down. Pretend you are that person, and it will help, one day, you become the other person you are writing. The narrator. The character. Whoever. Jul 6 '17 at 17:24
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It's a process. The first few things you write should be 'in your own words'. Ignore any thoughts of grammar or sentence structure.

This will reveal "How you write, your voice." - learn it. Understand it.

Novel writing is not about grammar and correctness.

Compare.

"I live in America with Uncle."

With

"After coming to America I am, in this moment, living in the house of the brother of my mother."

Even though a grammatical mess the second sentence is far more intriguing - it says more.

Once you've learned you own voice you can develop character voices.

Middle Class English woman - . "I do, however, vaguely remember my first kiss – Roger something, handsome boy, huge hands, the kind of boy I imagine mothers tell their daughters to stay away from . . ."

Once you've developed comprehensive character voices you may choose any character to tell your story.

From that point forward the job becomes relatively simple. The story is not about YOU - nobody's interested in YOU.

As you address your keyboard, get in the 'zone'. Who am I? What are my issues? What kind of shit am I in?

That's how actors do it.

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  • Strangely enough, I have no problem fitting in a character when I'm roleplaying, getting in what you call "the zone". Could it be a simple matter of mindset? Now, of course a story shouldn't be in my voice, because it's fiction. Yet it could be put to good use in other kinds of work.
    – Patsuan
    Jul 7 '17 at 13:06
  • 'the second sentence is far more intriguing' that's quite a subjective view.
    – Spagirl
    Jul 24 '17 at 14:49
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I have had the same problem, and it has been resolved by sticking with what I have put forth at the beginning of my writing. If you get the voice and approach you want to write down well, then once you have it down, you can keep referring back to it and comparing it with what you have done in the beginning and adjusting. This is not something you would do in a first draft, of course, because then you are writing to discover, but afterwards. It sounds as though you reach the "gold" at the end of your process, so why not use that as the beginning of subsequent drafts? Planning well goes hand in hand with this approach: if you have spent time developing your characters and the voice in the piece, you will be less likely to stray from what you've worked to develop. Having a good plot outline that will help you stay on track is another element of planning, in addition to character. Best wishes and happy writing!

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  • Write more. * Outline it, then rewrite it, then rewrite again. Your "inner revolution" will evolve and come forth. Then confidence will begin to display itself in writing. All answers to writing dilemmas are in revision.
  • What you're left with is style.*
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Just go with it in your first draft. An inconsistent voice is common early on. You'll smooth out the voice as you revise.

Revision is where your actual writing happens. You'll move paragraphs around, delete and add sections, delete and add characters, tweak character traits, etc. Fixing voice is just one of the things you'll address in revision. This is the fun part.

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