Keeping it Reel

How to Find Your Voice as a Writer


What is the one thing that sets all great screenwriters apart from the rest? Having a unique and identifiable voice. From Tarantino to Kaufman, all of the greats have a voice that makes their movies characteristiacally them. If you want to join this squad of hall of famers, you have to find yours. But…that’s a little easier said than done, isn’t it?

Finding your voice as a writer isn’t really something you can practice. You can’t just check off a few boxes on the “become a professional screenwriter” list, and recieve one. There are a few things you can do, however, to put yourself on the right track to developing your voice. Check them out below.

 


 

Write unapologetically

When I was younger, I used to write stories all the time. I would write about strange monsters and weird worlds. I would create a whole universe in my head, and I wouldn’t think twice about it. I never seemed to care if my stories were good or bad; I just liked to write them…so I did.

Somewhere between third grade and my freshman year of high school, however, I lost my ability to just sit down and write. I started thinking about what I was writing, why I was writing, and who I was writing to. I started analyzing every sentence I put on the page and became extremely insecure about every piece I finished. I was unable to write freely. Every word I wrote whispered a subtle apology.

A problem that many young writers have is an inability to write unapologetically. What I mean by that is they don’t tell their story the way they want to tell it, but instead tell it in a way that they think will be well received. The problem with this is that in order to discover who you are as a writer and develop a voice of some kind, you have to be true to yourself. Once you discover your voice, you can worry about who you are writing to and how your audience will receive your writing, but for now, write how you want to.

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HOW DO YOU WRITE UNAPOLOGETICALLY?

Well, it is actually very easy.

 

  1. Sit Down
  2. Start Writing

That’s it. Don’t spend a lot of time re-reading. Don’t dote over every sentence. Don’t consider whether your writing is good or not. Just write. After you have written a page or two, go back and fix things up, but do it your way. There are no rules to the way you write (not yet anyway). Have fun with it, and be true to your story.

 

Experiment with different genres

When you are first starting out as a writer, it can be easy to get stuck in the same genre time after time. You are good at writing action scripts, and you like to write action scripts so…you write action scripts. It is always great to have a niche, but if you are still discovering your voice, try experimenting with different genres. Write a romance, comedy, or drama.

WHY?

Writing a different kind of story can help you draw patterns between your pieces. How does your personality shine through in each piece you right? What similarities are there between your romcom and your horror screenplay?

Analyze your work and draw conclusions about yourself as a writer. If you do this, you may start to understand what kind of voice you have.

 

Identify your style

Contrary to what many people believe, writing style and voice are two different things. Style includes things like sentence length, paragraph breaks, use of prose and metaphors, and punctuation choices. Voice, on the other hand, is the personality of an individual writer. Style can affect a writer’s voice, and voice can affect a writer’s style, but it is important to know and recognize the differences between the two. If you can identify stylistic choices you are making, it may be easier to find the general personality you are conveying through your writing.

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Carry a journal at all times

This is something all writers should try to make a habit of anyway, but it applies specifically to finding your voice. Journaling gives you the unique opportunity to write down your inner thoughts and any ideas you may have while on the go. It is a great way to learn more about yourself not just as a writer, but as an indiviual. And learning about yourself can be a big help when it comes to finding your unique voice.

 



Developing a distinctive voice is going to take some time. But there are other things you can do to prepare yourself for a career in writing right now. You can click below to download our Film Career Guide, and take a look at the different careers a film writer can pursue. Lock in your final goal now, come up with a plan for pursuing it, and start your journey today!

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This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.