Posted by: writerjames | March 7, 2011

Don’t Lose Your Voice

I’m all for revising and revising and revising.  I’m also all for getting feedback from as many sources as possible.  I’m a member of a writing group, which I highly recommend, and I’ve gotten tons of great advice from other writers.  Hopefully, I’ve given them some too.

Sometimes, though, you can try TOO hard to take advice.  After a group reading, it’s not hard to fill pages and pages with things that the group says you need to fix or change.  Some of the advice you’ll get will be valuable, some will not.  Remember that it’s still your story.  You make the decision on what to change and what to keep.  You have to weigh each piece of advice individually and decide what to do and what not to do.

I’ve seen a writer make so many changes and revisions based on the advice of others that they lose their voice in the process.  This is what you have to be careful of.  If that happens, you’ve lost yourself in the story, and it’s become a homogenized lump of nothing.  It becomes a story by committee.

A good story is the most important thing, but a writer’s voice is a close second.  That’s why readers seek out more books by a writer they like.  Even if they read one or two books by a favorite author that aren’t good, they usually still keep reading his or her stuff because they like and know the voice.  They’re comfortable with it.

Let the story come from within, then revise and revise and revise… carefully.  Make sure your voice is still in there when you’re done.




  1. I Agree, even within our group, you cannot arbitrarily accept everything suggested, but the feedback is valuable.

    • True. Often when individuals make suggestions, they don’t know what follows. In a writing group, we hear just a bit at a time. We might suggest someone crank up the tension in a scene, but the next scene might be a very emotional one. Only the writer alone knows what comes next, and he or she is the one that has to balance it all out in the end.

      I’ve had the honor of reading a couple of books now that I read while they were being written. It’s so interesting to see how wrong I was sometimes!

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