How to find your writing voice

Tom Bromley
5 September 2016

Often as writers we know we want to write, but not exactly what or how. Here, we discuss how to find your writing voice, open your imagination, and expand your writing repertoire.

  • Experiment with different writing styles and genres
  • Learn the secrets that make each of the genres tick
  • Expand your range, both as a writer and a reader
Find Your Writing Voice: Exploring Genre

We all enjoy a good story. Be it thrilling, scary, sad or comforting, there’s a book for every mood. In fact, stories are how we, as humans, come to understand the world. But it’s never quite as easy as putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. We have an innate desire to tell stories, but we need to learn how to craft them before they’ll be worth hearing.

Every reader has their favourite books, and a hardboiled mystery might seem light-years away from a humourous romance, but stepping out of your comfort zone and reading something out of the ordinary can only be good. One of our core principles is that ‘a good writer is a good reader’ — and this doesn’t just mean taking in every word and analysing every image and allusion. Reading widely exposes us to a whole spectrum of techniques and tastes, and through this we can discover different elements of the writing craft that can be directly applied to our own writing — whatever genre we choose to write in.

It can be hard to pin down exactly what kind of story you want to tell, and it takes practice to develop your individual voice. An easy way of discovering what sort of writing you are best at, and more importantly what you enjoy writing the most, is to try them all. Write a 1000-word crime caper. Write a saccharine-sweet love story. Write the opening to a sci-fi fantasy set in a far flung galaxy where time is malleable. Experimentation is the key to being a well-rounded writer, and when you find something you really enjoy, it’s time to write more and expand on your ideas.

A good writer is a good reader.

This freedom to experiment is also hugely enjoyable. Writing should be playful, and not everything you write will — nor should be — fit to publish. Think of it as doodling with words. Often, you’ll just have a bit of fun, with a pleasant sketch to show for it. Sometimes, though, the mood will take you on a journey, and before you know it you’ll have page upon page of writing which is quite unlike anything you would have expected. This is the joy of writing: discovering things not only about the world you have created, but about yourself, too.

Exploring a wide variety of styles isn’t just useful for discovering your preferred genre to write in, though. You might be set on writing a YA novel, but this doesn’t mean it’s not helpful to test out other genres too. Writing romance could help you create more convincing relationships. Plotting a crime thriller might be the key to understanding story structure. Trying out a historical setting might help you crack key research skills. Exploring outside your preferred genre will give you a bank of knowledge to draw upon whenever you see fit.

You might know you want to write, but are unsure of what to write about. You might be an experienced writer stuck in a rut, wanting to expand your horizons. You might just want to challenge yourself, and prove that you can write sci-fi as well as you can romance. Whatever your reasoning, our Find Your Writing Voice: Exploring Genres course will help expand your range as a writer, and perhaps even shed some light on what makes you tick, too.

Tom Bromley

Tom Bromley is a published author, editor, creative writing tutor, book reviewer and ghost (not the scary kind). He's written ten books under his own name and the pseudonym Thomas Black, which are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. He's also ghostwritten a dozen more titles, several of which have been international bestsellers.

As a creative writing tutor, Tom teaches novel writing and five further courses for the Faber Academy. He's also Director of Fiction for the Professional Writing Academy, where he runs courses on crime and genre fiction. He's also the books columnist for View Magazine and columnist for the Salisbury Journal.

As a former commissioning editor and publisher, he works, too, as an editorial consultant and mentor for a number of publishers, literary agencies and organisations, and also in a private capacity. Locally, he hosts the Salisbury Writing Circle — a community of new and experienced writers alike.

Find Your Writing Voice: Exploring Genre

Begins: 24 September 2018