Discovering your voice as a writer.

August 6th, 2010 by Ron
The Script Blogger

When you hear a person speak you can recognise them by the sound of their voice. It should be the same with writers, in the manner they write.

People buy novels because of the author, audiences watch movies because of who directed them or who acted in them but the really interesting thing is, producers, production companies and even studios buy scripts because of who wrote them.

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The chances of success as a writer are extremely unlikely but not impossible for the gifted amateur, but absolutely improbable if your material doesn’t fit the template of what the market place is looking for.

Sure some will get their scripts read, some might even get their scripts produced but it is not for the faint hearted or delusional dreamers.

The hard facts are the majority of people writing screenplays are just not good enough to make it on the big screen.

Then add to that, that the few who grow into good writers don’t know anybody who can really help them progress to become great writers or get their material to people who matter in the industry.

And you have some idea of why there are hundred of thousands of un-produced screenplays floating about in cyberspace and in waste baskets of ‘not-really-interested’ people, who said they were.

It is all about the writer having a unique distinct voice, a style that is indelibly theirs. A voice that sounds original, even more than their stories. This is not the dialogue of a character but the way the writer expresses themselves.

Neither is it an imitation of other writers but the way the writer articulates themselves, and that by simply reading an extract from something they have written you can identify the writer.

It doesn’t matter if it is a post on a forum, a Blog or a screenplay, the writer’s style should be as distinctive as their voice, if you heard them speaking.

This is not about the story, the genre or even the characters that the writer creates, or even the voice that the writer gives to their characters. It is about the voice of the writer.

This is not a question of learning the way to format a screenplay or the difference between telling and showing within a script. Nor is it referring to the structure used or dialogue composed, this is about talent.

The talent to communicate in a way that is clearly the writers, and theirs alone regardless of the content.

It should be acknowledged that the writer has to be able to write a compelling story with interesting characters, with great arcs, memorable dialogue all within a screenplay that is structured, formatted and presented as the industry expects.

But understanding even recognising your own voice as a writer can be difficult, let alone somebody else’s but that’s the place to start, where the writer’s voice can be heard without the sound of another person’s voice; on the page by reading their scripts.

You can’t really identify the writer’s voice on screen because by the time it has reached a final presentation hundreds of other people have contributed, altered, coloured and influenced the finished project, especially the producers, director and actors.

Some people call the writer’s voice their style and to a degree that is correct but don’t confuse style with genre.

If as a writer you write everyday, writing becomes a habit and the way you write becomes entrenched in the way you link phrases, construct sentences, repeat expressions and how you describe events and people; all highly relative facets of screenwriting.

If you read a couple of scripts by an established screenwriter look for the similarities such as timing relative to constructing the build up to the climax. The way characters are introduced, the precision or lack of it in their set descriptions or their fluency in fast action scenes.

At first it is like a maze of unrelated threads but gradually a style becomes detectable and the more you look the more you will hear the writer’s voice.

When you can see that in the writing of others, look for it in your own writing because if you can’t find it, neither will others.

2 responses to “Discovering your voice as a writer.”

  1. Heber says:

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  2. Johnson Matthey says:

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