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-- the fearless type --
Ah, the author's voice. We've talked about it before where we covered *how* to define what your author's voice really is. But what about if you write in different genres, or with completely different type of characters?
Different genres have different tones, styles, and voice. Action adventure is fast paced and action orientated. Fantasy can be anything from dreamy to darker, with an emphasis on symbols, descriptions, and allegories. Comedy is obviously humorous and meant to make you laugh.
Different characters, especially if written in first person, can really change the book's feel too. The voice of a sarcastic, pragmatic nurse is going to be vastly different from a shy, artsy juniour high student.
So when we have such variables, what happens when you write across a variety of them? How do we make sure our book still stands out as your own? Let's take a look.
1. Understand that just because you are writing a different genre (etc) you don't have to mimic other books in the same genre. I'm all for gaining inspiration from other books, but here's the thing I like to stress-- you shouldn't feel like you need to copy. Take note of what you like in a certain writing style, sure. That's a great way to adopt new techniques that you might end up really liking. But just always keep in mind that you don't have to be like every other book out there. Understand that there are various stylistic choices and cliches particular to genres that readers are familiar with and enjoy, but also know that new and original takes on a genre are also awesome.
2. Check out your word choice and sentence structure. It doesn't really matter what time period, genre, or character you're writing, there will be words and patterns you constantly rely on as a writer. Some of this might change a little depending on the book, but overall, you're going to realize you have a certain way of writing. The trick with this is to define what that is and utilize it. Of course, you can't use your favorite modern lingo in a medieval epic, and you wouldn't want to transplant pirate phrases into a cozy mystery set in Nebraska. But even putting out-of-place words, phrases and sentence structure aside, there's a lot that you will tend to use over and over again as a writer that can definitely adapt to various books.
3. Pay attention to how you describe things. Your outlook and explanations of things are going to be unique to you, and you can really play that up. Maybe you're great at using expansive and flowing language to create an image in people's minds, or maybe your descriptors are sparse and witty. When you discover what your style of description is, you can translate that really well across genres.
4. Make clear what a couple of your major writing styles are. Everyone has certain things that consistently show up when they write freely (brain-dump style). Maybe you notice that you tend to have a poetic flair with a touch of pessimism. Maybe you're slap-stick funny with a tendency for melodramatics. You could have a rather dry style with sharp humor, or maybe you're mellow and calm. The point is, be sure you understand what your major writing styles are. (You might even have a couple you can bounce back and forth from depending on what you're writing). If you know those styles, though, you will be able to consistently utilize it whenever you write anything.
5. See if you write similar characters. Now I'm not talking carbon copies here, but like it or not, your characters are going to have some things in common. Maybe a majority of your characters are all Christians, from South Africa, easily distracted, the middle sibling, lonely, trying to figure out who they are, or have an affinity for the arts. Whatever it is that is your trademark, make sure you know what it is. This can not only help you consistently create original characters without "repeating" but it can also show you what sort of characters you excel at writing about. You never know... a similar character could be a bridge into a new genre.
6. Don't forget your settings, plot line, and themes. Just like with the characters in the previous points, there are a few other things that can be "trademarked" so to speak by you in your books. Maybe a lot of your books take place in the inner city, or the wilderness of Scotland, or small towns in New England. Your plot lines could have the same sort of tension, pace, or twists-and-turns. For instance maybe you write multiple thread Regency fiction with lots of surprises and parallel plot lines. Well, that sort of plot line could easily be adapted to a modern day police book, a quirky fantasy, or even an epic tech-filled mystery. Themes work like this too. Do you have recurring themes in your books? (Good-vs-evil, fragility, freedom-vs-bondage, coming-of-age, and so on). Those are great pieces of the puzzle that are excellent for crossing genres and different characters.
Of course, the most important tip of the day... have confidence, don't get too caught up with all the style rules, and write what feels natural to you. Your author's voice will play out through everything if you do those things.
So tell me! Do you write in an array of genres? Or maybe you do completely different characters. Let me know in the comments what works for you and how you like to keep your author's voice consistent.