Tone in Writing and Your Unique Voice

Tone in WritingBased on the questions I hear wherever I speak, it’s clear that beginning writers agonize as much over these issues as anything else.

Trust me, while it’s crucial you find your unique writing voice so you can set a distinctive tone, it really isn’t all that complicated.

You wouldn’t be able to tell that from the plethora of blogs, articles, and books on the subject. Google “unique writing voice” and “tone in writing” and you’ll spend the rest of your day and night immersed in opinions.

I don’t want to be just another, um, voice among all the others, so let me make it extremely simple.

I’ll do it by asking you to use your memory and your imagination—and also by sharing an embarrassing story I hope will make it stick.

3 Simple Steps to Finding Your Unique Writing Voice

When determining what your tone in writing should sound like on the page, consider:

  1. The coolest thing that ever happened to you
  2. The most important person you told about it
  3. What you sounded like

That’s as complicated as it needs to be.

Here’s how it works and how my story plays into this.

  1. The highlight of my life was realizing that I had met the woman who would become my wife.
  2. I could not wait to tell my best friend, who happened to work at an all-night gas station.
  3. I sounded smitten, as interested in my story as anything I had ever said before.

I drove nearly three hours in the wee hours of the morning after leaving my beloved, pulled into the gas station, eyes alight, and made my friend drop everything else and sit before me to give me his full attention.

I sat atop a 55-gallon oil drum, then told him all about Dianna, and I mean everything. What she looked like, sounded like, how she acted, how much I loved her, that he would be in the wedding—

“Wedding?” he said. “Does she know how you feel?”

“She will soon enough,” I said, and I plunged on. For two hours I rhapsodized about a woman with whom I had spent not much more time than that. (We have been married since 1971.)

The embarrassing part? I was wholly unaware, until I climbed down from that drum, that I had been sitting the whole time in a quarter inch of motor oil. It had soaked through my pants and down my legs. (It felt pretty good actually.)

When I arrived home at dawn, my mother took one look at me and said, “You’re in love.”

Okay, my voice in that anecdote is obvious. I was smitten and understandably obnoxious.

My tone? That’s a different matter. For this purpose I chose wry and, I hope, funny. But I could have chosen virtually the same voice with an entirely different tone.

For instance, if I had begun, “Listen, if you’re not still as enamored with your spouse — even after decades of marriage — as you were when you met, something could be wrong with your relationship,” my anecdote might still raise a smile.

But just as you had to hide a giggle when a coach or teacher unintentionally spit at you while exhorting you about something, you might not laugh at my story as you did with the original tone.

To my point:

You have an idea for a novel or a nonfiction book. How do you go about telling it, writing it? What should your writing voice sound like?

Imagine sitting your best friend down and demanding their full attention, insisting, “Listen, have I got something to tell you…”

What comes next is your writing voice. It should sound like you at your most engaged.

Writing first-person from the standpoint of your protagonist? Imagine them, sitting with their best friend, demanding their full attention…

If you don’t know your protagonist well enough to do that yet, you have more work to do.

BONUS: I’ve created a guide to help get you started on this exercise. For best results, print this document and fill it out by hand. You can click here or on the image below to download it for free: Ready to find your unique writing voice?

What have you discovered about your tone in writing? Tell me in the comments below.

Related Posts:

How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps

How to Write a Memoir: A 3-Step Guide

How to Write a Short Story That Captivates Your Reader

  • Jerry, this was really helpful. I’m a pastor’s wife who has been in ministry and speaking for years. While I am new to writing and write Non-Fiction, the power of “story” is unmatched in anyone’s writing or speaking voice. Thank you for painting the picture of how that transfers onto the page.

    • Glad to help, Karen. Hope your voice comes through loud and clearer than ever.

  • Love this, Jerry. I write for kids, so I have to go back into those awkward middle school years. Thanks, so much.

    • Writing to kids REALLY requires the precise voice, doesn’t it Robyn? I always notice this when I’m with my grandkids. I start a little formal, catching up, asking how they’ve been, etc. They have expectant looks, eyes dancing. Then I start teasing, telling stories, over-reacting to their jokes or tales, and then they know I’m really with them.

  • Debra Timmons

    I loved the “voice” you used just telling your story above. It was so animated that I could picture every detail. You made me more excited above the novel I’m working on. It’s much easier for me to give that passion when writing non-fiction. Now, let’s see if I can translate that same passion into fiction. Thank you so much.

  • Pat Strickland

    Thanks, Jerry. I am on your mailing list. I discovered from this exercise, that I am honest, specific and have a little of humor added in. Not sure if that is my voice. But I am writing our life story and struggling with just using a few stories. I have written it chronologically and my friends say it is good but does not flow well. I have used some of your suggestions on your emails.

    • Sometimes, Pat, flow problems are a matter of trying too hard to include everything. Let one story remind you of another similar one, even if it came a few years later and causes you to skip other stories. Maybe they ought to be skipped. They’re important to you but might not be to the reader.

  • Elisa

    I can relate to this idea. I am working on a story which developed from a conversation I had with my 8 year old daughter. Each time I sit down to write on this story I am writing to my children. Why? Because I read it to them every few days. (Poor kids-yes they are too young to run away) The other day, after reading a few pages to them, my daughter said, “You go, Mama. You go make a movie!” I hooted at her expression and loyalty. I no longer think about the editor, publisher, or critic. I am writing to my biggest fan…and THAT is good stuff.

    • Mary Altshuller

      Good for you!

    • That’s the epitome of what I’m advising, Elisa. :)

  • Frances Wilson

    This is like a word spoken in season. I have something I want to say to specifically encourage others who have or are experiencing the situations I have. This has inspired me to choose, develop and use the right voice. I would not write a snail mail letter via the internet just like I cannot impart the truths through fiction.

  • MofPennsy

    So much advice seems to be, “Don’t think about having a voice…don’t let them catch you writing..be invisible…”

    • True, and I think by finding the enthusiasm in the telling you can do just that. The spotlight goes to the story rather than to the author.

      • MofPennsy

        Yes, but…What is a “New” (thus interesting) Story? Does that path lead to melodrama? I don’t know if you’ve read Bradbury, Frank Herbert (Dune), Harry Potter, A Wizard of Earthsea(LeGuin)… these are unique writers who are good at invoking mood…Maybe I’m seeing unique “voice” coming through in the dialogue…which would mean that Character could be central…

  • Joyce E. Johnson

    Thanks, Jerry. This was so helpful. Interesting that you mentioned the ‘first person’ POV protagonist excited to share good news. That is what I am doing, writing a ‘first person’ novel about a protagonist excited about her new revelations she has learned about her family history, that her grandfather’s family were German Jews from Russia. My own 30+ yrs. research about my own German Russian grandfather, and learning his family’s Jewish origins, and conversion, and then knowing that he had a personal relationship with the Lord was exciting to me to share with my own family so I created a character for my story with that kind of excitement, (much like my own). The fact that I am a supportive advocate and prayer partner with Israel and having been to Israel too, made it all more exciting to me to share my story.

    • The voice you’re using now is your writing voice, Joyce. :)

      The struggle for you is going to be to keep the action on stage and not as flashbacks and backstory. It’s always so much more immediate and meaningful to the reader to be “there” as it happens than to hear it recounted later.

  • Mary Altshuller

    My experience was scuba diving in the Florida Keys on a wreck called the Spiegel Grove. Had to pull out my log book to see what I’d written. We went down to 105 feet but didn’t have time to penetrate it. The scary part was watching my husband’s air gauge going down as we went up the ascent line because he’s a heavy breather and uses up his air faster than me. So when he ran out of air, I had my own spare regulator hose ready to help him put into his mouth after he spat out his own reg. But I don’t go on and on about much of anything mainly because I don’t get excited anymore about anything – far too many disappointments in my life. So I keep things pretty brief – in my writing and recounting things.

    • You had a great voice going there, Mary, until the sentence that ended with “reg” and the one that began with “But…” Since you don’t get excited anymore about anything, the air went out of the balloon as fast as it went out of your husband’s tank, and as scary as it was for you to see that, suddenly it wasn’t scary to the reader any more, because you quite thinking reader-first.

      When you’re writing, follow that cardinal rule and remember that your reader will feel what you feel, only exponentially multiplied. In telling of seeing your husband’s gauge falling and your being ready with your spare, you don’t even have to tell us you’re scared, because we are.

      Keep the tension, maintain the entertainment value, keep us reading and turning the pages… :)

      • Mary Altshuller

        ​Okay, thanks for the advice, Jerry.

        Mary Altshuller

        Mary Altshuller

  • Kevin Norberg

    I have struggled with PTSD all of my adult life, never knowing I had it or how debilitating it had become. Last summer, at the age of 61, I discovered this had been the albatross hung around my neck and that it was placed there in my childhood by my father.

    I have likened this discovery to being freed from a death sentence.

    I have passionately explained this to my wife, my son, and my closest circle of friends.

    This is my writers voice!

    • It sure is, Kevin. Run with it!

      • Kevin Norberg

        Thanks, Jerry. I admire your prolific writer’s voice!

  • MAL

    Jerry, your lesson on finding your
    voice was excellent. Your description of being so carried away with your
    message (you had found your furure wife) worked as well as any scene in
    literature. Why did it work for me?

    In ‘Hamlet and His Problems,’ T.S. Eliot
    defined the objective correlative like this: The only way of expressing
    emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that ‘particular’ emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.

    Your being so excited you sat in motor oil for a couple of hours while
    talking about the girl you had already met and planning the wedding is definitely an objective correlative for the emotion known as romantic love.
    Your mother’s statement capped it off: “You’re in love.”
    The lesson triggered several lines of thought I intend to pursue. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Mal. And can you blame me?

    • MAL

      NO, WE BOTH MARRIED LOVELY LADIES, ONE OF GOD’S RICHEST BLESSINGS.

  • this was so delightfully short, concise and helpful! thank you.

  • Pamala Sue Kingery

    Thanks for the article Jerry. I get that excited when telling friends about my books. Now I need to make sure I use that voice in the storyline.

  • Kathleen Thackham

    When I met my husband we didn’t have email or cell phones. We had to use pen and paper. He lived 6500 miles away so calling everyday was expensive. One day, before he ever knew I wanted to write, he told me he fell in love with me through my letters. He said I write how I talk, and each letter made him feel as though I was in the room with him and they brought him comfort when he missed me. That compliment touched my heart because as a writer, I want to be authentic, I want people to feel like they know me and that maybe I can relate to them.
    On my blog that no one reads, I try to let go of my fear and just be 100% me. No aires or graces, no worries about bring good or bad, just pure heart wanting to help someone, hoping someone will read my hearts desires some day. My writing voice is so important to me. Its something I am kind of proud of and I never want to lose it or try to be someone else to sell a book or anything I may have written. Thank you for this article. I loved it.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      You need to find a way to expand your readership. More people need to hear that voice.

      • Kathleen Thackham

        Thank you. Do you cover expanding readership in your courses? Is there a way to do it without being annoying and bothering people?

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          Yes, and the only reason someone would be annoyed or bothered would be if you had nothing to offer them in your writing. And in that case, they can just ignore you. :)

          • Kathleen Thackham

            Thats what I am afraid of. What if I have nothing to offer? Oh why am I making excuses? You’ve heard them all. I made some friends this last year who were promoting their books and building their “tribes” and they only cared about me because I could “like” their books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and forward information from them. Thats not genuine to me. It put me off. I don’t want to be like that. People are to be loved and relationships are meant to be cultivated. I don’t want to build a “tribe” of strangers. It made me realize the way the publishing world is going and if this is whats happening then maybe I am not meant to be a part of it. This mindset also relegates me to living a life of regrets because I won’t share my voice or as you put it, my ministry.

          • Jerry B Jenkins

            That’s a crucial distinction, Kathleen, and I’m with you on this. To me it’s the difference between platform in the true sense and platform in the phony sense, as you detect in the ones you cite.

            I can tell difference in car salesmen. There is the one who is drippy, syrupy, pseudo-best-friend slick who wants the sale so badly he makes you feel like the most important person on earth until he closes the sale. The next day you might look familiar to him, it’s hard to know.

            Then there’s the truly helpful one who maintains eye contact, listens, hears you, understands your needs and your budget, and works with you until he matches you with a win-win solution, whether it means the biggest commission for him or even sending you to the dealer next door.

            I want to help writers get published. If in the process they learn about one of my books and buy it because I gained their trust, that’s icing. I don’t want it to be because I also provided them a list of ways they can help promote me to all their social media contacts. If they do, they do–that’s the beauty of social media and word of mouth, but it’s not the point.

            Make your motive, your life, your ministry, others-oriented and use the wonders of technology and social media to expand your reach, and you won’t have to self-promote. Humble yourself before the Lord, and HE will lift you up.

          • Kathleen Thackham

            I wish I had a “love” button for this post. Honestly, as strange as this may sound, I feel like you are a little blessing of hope sent to me by Jesus to get me to move my feet. God has sent many people over the years to shake me out of this funk. Some have self-published books, some had publishers come after them and I sat there in a pool of regret, weeping silently, yet always being the supportive friend, and I watched them follow their dreams. I wondered how long it would be before I mustered up the courage to live my dreams too.

            I know in my heart that God wants this, I’ve known it for a long time, and it makes me so mad that I haven’t been obedient. I’ve been a coward.
            Honor, integrity, love and kindness, thats what we need more of. The world is full of people who will tell you what you want to hear and the next day they can’t remember your name. I can’t go to my grave being that kind of person.

            I know you must be super busy, so I feel blessed you are taking the time to write to me. Thank you for helping me dream again and for your healing words that really are sinking in and making me think. Maybe I do have something to offer, maybe someone would like to read something I wrote and maybe I could be a mentor to someone some day.

            My family sees a light shine in my heart that had been dimmed. They are really happy I found your blog. I need to invest in me and value my experiences and abilities. “Don’t ask the Lord to guide your steps, if your afraid to move your feet.” I need to move my feet.
            Thank you Jerry.

          • Jerry B Jenkins

            Just paying it forward. :)

          • Kathleen Thackham

            Awesome thank you:)

          • Sharon Butler

            Kathleen, I know nothing about you except what I have read in the preceding paragraphs. Yet, I need to tell you, “I like you.” (Saying ‘I like you’ made me chuckle out loud.) You have a lovely voice. It’s warm and friendly, without pretense; very authentic. Please let me help expand your readership. How do I find your Blog? I want to follow you. Best, Sharon

          • Kathleen Thackham

            Wow Sharon, I don’t know what to say, I am touched. Thank you for the message and kind words. I would love another follower. I will warn you, you may end up being only one of four, but my readers may be minimal but they are mighty :) My blog is: https://kathleenthackham.com/
            Thanks so much!

          • Sharon B. Butler

            Hi,
            I relate to most everything you said. It has been a year since you wrote this post. How are you doing with your project? Have you kept those promises to yourself? Did you move your feet, Kathleen? :)
            Looking for your blog,
            Sharon

          • Kathleen Thackham

            Sharon, Hello! Well I am most certainly trying! I haven’t kept all the promises but I am still on track :) Hope all is well with you!

  • Rosa Mellinger

    Thank you for confirming what my heart knows…my voice follows my heart. Sometimes my passion is to educate, other times to encourage, and with others to exhort. With each purpose my voice changes to match my audience, my goal, and my heart. I enjoy your suggestion to talk to your best friend.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thank you, Rosa.

  • Karen Crider

    I found my voice a long time ago. But I appreciate the wisdom you lend in your writing to those who still struggle with that area. Joseph Conrad said that it takes a million words to make a writer. He wasn’t kidding. I don’t know if I have reached the million mark or not, but it’s through the wisdom of those who have that we learn ourselves. So, I appreciate your teachings and thank you not only from me, but from any who benefit from your experience.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Karen.

  • Rachael M Colby

    Are you there Jerry? Can you hear me?

    Finding My Voice

    I looked in the mirror and found my voice.This is my voice. It’s me becoming broken. It’s me bleeding all over the pages. Can’t you see my words are borne on tears? Do you think I borrowed my words, the words God gave me? Did you think they came cheap? No, they are costly, because this world has a way of banging up a human heart; but that’s OK because Jesus has a way of restoring it. Welcome to my life. Welcome to my vulnerability. This is raw; this is live. Welcome to my funeral and resurrection. You are invited to watch me die, and live again in Christ.

    And I may as well go for it and post this here too;)

    The Why of Why I Write

    Why do I breathe?
    Inhale…
    Exhale…
    How can I not?
    It’s in me.
    It’s who I am.
    It’s what He has called me to.
    Sometimes it’s how I speak to Him,
    Praying on paper.
    Sometimes it’s how He answers me.
    When He does, He tells me:
    “Write this down.”
    Lest I forget.
    So others may know Him.
    So He may be glorified,
    When the going is good.
    So He may be glorified,
    When the times are bitter.
    To give others hope,
    For He takes trash,
    And makes it into treasure.
    Because I must.

    Rachael M Colby

    PS I wanted to post these in your “Finish Your Book In 2016 Lesson 2” comments but Disqus wasn’t a choice from there and I don’t have FB. Hope you are still responding to older posts:) Thank you for your investment in others.
    Rachael

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I’m here, Rachel, and I think you’re going to be very interested in the announcement we’re making tomorrow–as well as the free webinar I’m hosting Thursday. It would be good to have you join us.

      • Rachael M Colby

        Jerry,
        Is your webinar live and if so what time? Do you think my children’s homeschool creative writing class would benefit from it? The ages are 8- 17 years old, plus some moms:) It is taught by a college professor who is a Christian, and I’m guessing she would probably enjoy your webinar also.
        Rachael

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          Oh, sure. I believe it’s 9 p.m. Eastern, but it’ll be announced tomorrow, or for sure the next day. Invite all. :)

  • Deborah Ann

    I really enjoyed the story and the direction was very helpful. Before I read your example I tried just answering the three questions. Really great exercise and I can’t wait to go download my email. Thank you Jerry.

    • Thanks! Hope we’ll see you at the free webinar Thursday night. :)

  • Carol

    That’s my problem, I write like I speak, but my grammar etc is very poor???

    • That IS a problem, and so is your punctuation, but as long as you’re aware of it, you can work on it. Your sentence above should have been punctuated thus:

      That’s my problem. I write like I speak, but my grammar, etc., is very poor.

      If you use a question mark, which the above did not call far, use only one. Same with exclamation points. Notice where I used a period instead of a comma, set off the ‘etc.’ (which needs a period) with commas, etc. [You can do this. :)]

  • Margaret

    Thank you, so much!
    I want my voice to communicate; to be able to transfer my head pictures to paper, and ignite passion in others for history, and for Jesus! But the passion is transferred by the Holy Spirit…yet, also by words…like the Bible. If this transfer could come only by His Spirit, then He would not have repeatedly, repeatedly, told His people to tell the history; and it was told even by Stephen before he was stoned, and by Peter. The First Historian made sure Noah had all that pre-flood history with him!
    How glorious to know our God, and how wonderful to know His love for us is beyond our capabilities of knowing!!
    Astounding. Our God is astounding, and I want to be able to tell people so they feel it!!

  • Jean Marcoux

    You’re story was very touching. You were so in love that you were oblivious to anything except your own feelings of euphoria. That’s how we all need to write- feel it then write it. Thanks, Jerry. Awesome!

  • Robert Randall

    I found this to be very helpful and entertaining. IT makes sense :) Perhaps this is the very thing my autobiography is missing. I need my voice to shine through. Thank you :)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Robert.

  • Linley Adams

    Jerry, I’ve only been a member of your writers’ guild for a little over a month (I’m not even sure how I found out about it, which is often the way when something is Spirit-led, is it not?) and yet today is the first time I’ve visited your website, hence why I’m just now commenting on a blog that’s over a year old already. :)
    I didn’t realize there was such a thing as writer’s craft and that learning it would help me get past the first chapter (I’ve done many of those over the years) or not flounder the one time I managed to make it to 25,000 words, but I’ve learned so much already from your workshops, manuscript rewrites, master classes, etc., and now your blogs! It’s exciting, yet daunting.
    I’m really a very quiet person and generally don’t have a lot of spoken words, so I’m having to work hard to even coming up with enough words to fill a novel. At the moment, I’m reworking the beginning of my manuscript and, trying to apply everything I’m learning, I’ve whittled it down to 17,000 words, but I still struggle. Sometimes, I feel like I’m trying so hard to do everything right (I am a bit of a perfectionist and live in fear of failure – hence why this desire to write a book has been with me for more than four decades without anything to show for it) that I end up with something that sounds stilted and unnatural. I feel like if I wrote like I spoke, then I’d just be telling instead of showing. How do I get past that?

    • Interesting thoughts, Linley. The difference is subtle, but you can do it. For instance, if you were ‘telling’ it to a friend with the voice described in my blog, you might be as casual and colloquial as, “It was freezing out, so I had to wear my thickest parka, you know, that huge, hooded one I got from Land’s End last year? Thing is, I forgot my gloves and scarf, so there I am trudging down the street with my shoulders hunched, my hands deep in my pockets, and my face turned away from the wind.”

      On the one hand, that’s ‘telling,’ but on the other it’s showing because you didn’t simply stop at, “It was freezing out…” What you say next shows us how cold it was. That’s what you’re striving for. Take us there with you.

      • Linley Adams

        I see the difference, but do people really have a conversation like that? If I were talking to a friend, and maybe it’s just me because I don’t have a lot of words, I’m not sure I would’ve gone into all the detail after “I forgot my gloves and scarf.” I guess I’m just going to have to try to think like someone who has more words (I’ll borrow from people I know who do)… but then I start thinking about what I’ve been learning from your “ferocious self-editing” and I feel like I would need to cut it all out again because it seems like I’m just rambling and going into way more detail than is really needed, and not giving the reader credit (RUE, as you would say). If it’s freezing outside and I already said I forgot my gloves and scarf, then it would be obvious that I’d be hunched over, hands in my pockets, etc. because that’s what everyone would do in that situation.
        I think, for me, there’s a fine line and I just haven’t figured out how to straddle it yet.
        I wanted to say thank you too, Jerry, because I know you’ve got to be incredibly busy with all you have going on and yet you take time out to reply to so many people — that’s amazing to me and very much appreciated!

        • No, they don’t converse like that. The example of how you would talk to your best friend is merely to help you find the appropriate voice. But this is your book. Make it sound like you. :)

          And thanks for your kind comments.

  • sarahhutchins

    Very helpful article. Narrows it down precisely. Very refreshing! I get fed up with trying to decipher pages upon pages which basically say the same thing. I wish they were all like this!

  • Denise I. Griggs

    I was writing about a family member named Peter Hunt, (A Mulatto Slave), I trying to relay his life (1844-1915). I was so caught up in trying to tell the story in so many tenses, until one evening when I was so very tired and ready to quit – in my head I actually heard – let him talk! I was literally taken aback. Then, as I looked at all of my research sitting in front of me, and knowing what I knew about him from reading historical docs, his personal papers, what other’s said about him, as well as oral family history, I knew immediately that it would work. Next, I jumped onto to my computer and began changing everything about Peter to first person and allowed him to tell his own story. Within 3 days I was finished! This allowed me to rewrite the beginning and ending of the book to my satisfaction. I had labored for months until I heard the sentence – let him talk!

    • That’s great, Denise. Nothing better than when a character becomes the voice of the piece, is there?

      • Denise I. Griggs

        In hindsight it certainly was the thing to do. After writing the book, a relative from MS heard about it (whom I’ve never met). He bought it, then called to inform me that he was fairly certain a woman he knew might be related to me, so he took her the book. I called her to see how we were related, and she happened to be reading the book. Honest – as it turns out, after checking my family database, Peter was her 2x great grandfather, but no one in her family had never heard of him! We were both so excited until we gasped and then were unable to speak! I felt as if Peter was telling his own family and 2-3x grandchildren about himself! I’m glad that I put a timeline and endnotes in the back of the book so they could verify and research him on their own. Your article about “the voice” was excellent advice for the book I’ve just begun which also helped me to go back to my children’s stories and stay in the correct voice. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise!

  • Nancy Gee

    I have a friend who shares her stories about her auto accident all the time.

  • Karen Crider

    In the last writing contest I won, they said my words lay unique on the page. So what does that mean? It means, I write descriptively, blanketed in metaphor, imagery, humor, and delight. This is all layered inside imagination, metaphor and fun. Because that’s how I view writing. It’s my dessert after drudging through that good- for- you entree, that lowers your cholesterol and your expectations, that your years will always be flavored with more of such blood lowering drudgery that life in more ways than one, entails. My characters eat steak and french fries dripping in fat, bacon and eggs smoking in cholesterol. They sunbathe and laugh at cancer to its face. They languish their lives away and never get fat, or divorced or homeless. Unless I want them to. Writing does that for me. It is the poetry I have not yet written, submerged inside a smile, a nod, a screen play, short story, children’s book and novel. It’s who I am. It ‘s who I was born to be.

    • Great. You’re who you were born to be, and now I’m hungry.

  • Cassandra Malone

    I thought that my voice was my feelings expressed through one of the characters. Good to know that’s not it.

  • Michelle

    Thank you for your wisdom. I figured out what is missing in my first two chapters of my book. I’m passionate about my topic, and I describe so well the details of what my character is going through, but I could not figure out how to get her story to that point in her life where she felt so desperate that nothing would be able to fix her life, except death. Now, I see it as if it were in front of my face. It’s taken ahold of my heart and I can now write it as if I were explaining her story to someone else in need of the same salvation that Sarah found that night. It’s not just the best friend who needs to hear this story, but the person who has come to the end, who needs God so desperately and the only voice they are able to hear is mine. There is a verse in the Bible that goes along with this concept. ” He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT)

  • Donnamarie Reames

    Listen, I have rarely read an article that was more “meat and potatoes” than this one. You can jump right in immediately and see what he is saying from the get-go. I learned so much from this article, and I’m really excited to put it to work for me right now! I love Jerry Jenkins’ writing and I appreciate this guide very much. Hands-on, hands-down, a great read.

  • Donnamarie Reames

    Cold water running over brown potatoes makes me want to write. My dog Beau is snoring noisily right now and I needed to write it down. The thing for me about my writing voice is that it has become almost an alter ego: there’s this girl inside of me who has been “taking notes” for as long as I can remember (and since I’m 56, that’s a lot of years of note-taking!). I would be lost without being able to capture thoughts, experiences, smells, sights…you know, everything…in writing. Can’t imagine it. Writing saves me. It helped me to walk away from a bisexual lifestyle when I decided that I would need to choose between that and Christianity. I didn’t think I could do it, to be quite honest, but I wrote about it over and over, turned it over and under and upside down in my head, and in the end, the choice was plain and clear as day. I’ve never looked back. The words I wrote to myself and to God in those journal entries became a sort of backbone, a rack for me to hang all those crazy emotions on (like discarded clothing!). I love writing. It’s a visceral choice for me, one I cannot live without.

  • I understand that when I am passionate about a topic or story, and not feeling overly nervous or self-conscious, I speak with excitement. Sometimes my voice becomes high-pitched. But I am afraid that’s not good enough for a writing. Or not appropriate for writing.

    I love your blog posts. And the more I read them, the more I realize I’m not dedicating enough time to my craft. I spend too much time researching and not enough time applying. It seems I am letting fear overtake or control me.

  • Lisa Selva

    I am not a native English speaker, I am French. I am writing a fictionalized memoir taking place in the 1960s. When I go back and read the chapters i wrote weeks ago, I find that my voice sounds a little too formal in places. I might be trying too hard not to make a mistake.

  • Barbara Carson

    Thank you, Mr. Jenkins! Just finished the rough draft of an inspirational journal and while I’m editing, I’m searching for a publisher. Naturally, your name popped up more than once. Love your books, look forward to your advice. Again, thanks and God bless!

  • BrandonDuncan

    Giving praise and thanks for your willingness to be a blessing to others. Thank you brother Jerry… An awesome read, full of the wisdom I am needing…

  • Dustin Frueh

    Thank you for the free bonus guide and, as usual, your experience and advice are spot-on and much appreciated!

    I love you, brother.