It’s Not Your Voice: It’s Bad Writing

Some of you are seething just reading that title. You’re here to give me a piece of your mind. How exciting.

Others are here wondering if I’m talking about them. If you’re not angry, chances are no.

Another group is nodding their head, thinking Amen.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on

Amateur Hour

First, I want to let you know that we were all amateurs. I’m still an amateur. While I have a lot of experience and education within the field of writing, and I have edited for a lot of people, I am not Stephen King. J.K. Rowling is a more talented writer than I am. George R.R. Martin makes me shudder in fear when I type.

At some point every famous writer was as good as I am now. They were as good as you are. Being an Amateur is fine. Some very famous authors would still, skill wise, be considered amateur, but they are brilliant at putting a story together, pulling readers in, and marketing. Also, they finished a story (That’s why we’re doing NaNo, right?).

Improvement Required

Now that we’re all okay being mediocre, the next step is improvement. Read all the books. Read all the how to write books. Watch Brandon Sanderson’s classes on YouTube. Listen to your friends and family when they give suggestions. Get into a writing group and exchange ideas.

Journeys are difficult, and writing is no different. If you feel it should be easy, you are a hobbyist.

Is there anything wrong with being a hobbyist? Goodness no. I’ll never be a professional artist or gamer, but I enjoy them in my down time. It relaxes me. I do not place upon me the rigorous standards of a professional.

But if you bristle at the word “hobbyist,” then you need to accept the journey is difficult.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

But The Editor/Publisher Changed My Voice

First, what is voice? Voice is your ability to write in such a way that the reader can hear the words as if you’re speaking them. Idioms, syntax, diction, and a number of other nuances create voice. It takes time to develop, as if learning how to speak again. If you have found your voice, great!

One of the biggest things I hear from young authors is, “Don’t change my voice.” I see a lot of publishers and editors who say, “Don’t worry, we won’t change your voice!”

However, the author hasn’t found their voice. “Voice” is a substitute for mediocre writing. The syntax is hard to follow. The diction is childish. The grammar is abhorrent. Two or three ways are used to explain the same action every time in a book. The five senses are ignored, creating flat scenes. But it’s their voice.

I Swear I Found My Voice

Sometimes, the editor or publisher wants you to sound a certain way. You can either suck it up and agree to their methodology, or go somewhere else. If they are rewriting your sentences without adding to it (improving diction, syntax, adding senses, etc.), then chances are they only want to change your voice. While “selling out” would be a different post, there is no shame in making money writing. Even if you “sell out.”

Write On

I hope you keep writing. I pray you continue to improve upon the artistic path you are on. We all have a voice inside of us, and the world is a better place if we can find it, express it, and share it with others.

Tell me about your voice! Would love to hear about it, and would love to hear your take on this article!

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