It struck me today that one method of becoming a great writer could be to copy the style of one or more published authors. A bit like standing on the shoulders of giants.

I was therefore going to ask a question relating to the best way of doing so, but then I came across this: Is it okay to attempt to write in the style of another person, and how is that done well? There is only one (short) answer: 'no, find your own voice.' So that got me thinking about what my own voice actually is.

I read a lot of books and it's quite likely that the way I write has already been influenced by other authors. My question is therefore: what's the best way of making sure that I am using my own voice when writing fiction (as opposed to just copying subconsciously from the style of others)?

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    The answer you seek is in the same post as you linked but in the more detailed explanation i feel. What you see is the endresult of the writers you admire and there is no doubt you will be influenced by them. But the road towards that endresult is what makes you get your own voice. The manner of working, the practise you got, the experiences you obtain. Those are different for everyone and that is what makes you unique. Jun 19, 2018 at 14:29
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    There's great treatment of this in Manuscript Makeover. basically, you 'riff' freestyle, let your brain go wild, at spots throughout your manuscript. See manuscript Makeover, nice explanation. I've tried it, it works.
    – SFWriter
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:58

3 Answers 3


Your voice is just that: your voice. Don't think in the terms of what you write, think in terms of how you think.

Some people think very adjective heavy.

She held the worn and leathery hand against her cold cheek, cupping and muzzling it. The sweaty and calloused skin smelled of oil and powder; he'd been oiling that old hunting rifle again.

Some people think in ambience.

The crackle of fire carried the smell of home, but it was the simmering stew that made it his. His beloved stood there in but a simple dress, her back to him. Elbows danced as she stirred a meal for two.

Some people think more about implication.

She was the lady of the house now. A title bequeathed to her but days ago. Boots that would always be too large for her, a weight so heavy that even loss and mourning wouldn't dare match it.

Some are more abstract.

Clapping of slippers on dry, cold stone, weighed down by a crown too light to even hint at its own weight. Winter's cruel touch came early that year, almost as if the gods heralded in the beginning of the ever-growing void within her once warm and welcoming heart.

But let's talk about something more direct, more example based. John Grisham. He writes legal thrillers, and you can tell from his voice that he's very direct. His sex scenes aren't teasing and playful; they are direct, to the point. He clearly shows you: this is what you are allowed to know, now you figure out where this is going.

JK Rowling. She is very warm and familial. There's a sense of closeness with her characters, a sense that blood isn't the only bond shared between them. But there's also a sense of a greater narrative. A world exists outside of the scene you're in, implications from earlier scenes are splayed out before you. Some scenes are meandering, slow and easy. Others are almost break-neck fast. But there's always a sense that you aren't alone in dealing with this--and in her first few books, this is almost the central theme. Harry Potter would have died a thousand times over, had he been dealing with all that alone.


I would say: The best way is to not compare you to others.

Every author is special and has his own style. Sure some have more similarity to others, but everyone is special in his own way. Five authors could write the same story, but there would be five styles in the final version.

Your 'own voice' is basically your own style. Normally you write whats inside your head and so it is you personal style. I would say: It's pretty simple in that case, isn't it?


Your style will always be influenced by your environment, usually most strongly by what you read, but also by the dialects you hear from your peer group, and any other media you consume, television, radio, games etc... Your style will also change over time, every author's does, read The Colour of Magic and Thud side-by-side and you'd swear they were written by two completely different people. There is a famous saying that "nothing is new under the sun" so it's important to remember that your personal style will always have echoes of the style of others; even including people you've never heard of, or seen the work of, simply because there are only so many ways to say things and so many things to say.

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