The Key To Growing Readership: Your ‘Writer’s Voice’

Fantasy Castle Italic

“All shall dissolve, and leave not a rack behind … ”   

There’s no escape.  Every material thing in this world will eventually crumble to dust… including you.  Nothing will be remembered, except for something truly extraordinary:

Your stories. 

William Shakespeare

But not just any stories.  I’m going to make a crucial point here that determines whether you’ll succeed as a fiction writer, and whether your work will last.

Just before I get into that, take a moment to picture William Shakespeare’s reaction if he could see the planet-wide spread of his work today.  Somewhere, right at this second, his words are being brought to life on a stage, as vibrant as the day they were written.

Why does his work continue to appeal?

One of the key reasons is his unique and authentic Writer’s Voice, drawn from an obsessive, deeply personal passion for mythology, legends and literary classics.

The point I’m making is that an authentic Writer’s Voice is pivotal to your success too.  So let’s take a look at whether you’re heading along the right path.

How To Find Your ‘Writer’s Voice’

The reality is that it’s perfectly feasible your books might be read worldwide one day, and remembered long after you’re gone.  But this can only happen if they contain a crucial element:

The potent uniqueness of you.

Child Reads iPad Right now, I’m deeply involved in creating a series of children’s iPad apps. They overflow with stories that run wild.  I adore every mad, creativity-filled second of it. There’s no question it’s what I was put on the earth to do.

So let me ask:  Is your writing driven by your most passionate interests?  Does the emotional core of your story ring true? Do your books overflow with feelings and ideas drawn from your deepest emotional wells?

This is the source of your Writer’s Voice.  Readers can immediately sense when an author writes from the heart.  It’s what they hunger for.  And once they experience your originality, they’ll crave more of it, increasingly.

“Write With A Fire In Your Heart…”

Jane Johnson“First and foremost write the book you want to write, not the one you – or others – think will sell. You’re going to be working on this project for a LONG time, believe me, so you’d better love it. Write with a fire in your heart and you’ll create something special, something readers will want to read.

There may be all sorts of received wisdom out there about ‘what agents are looking for’ or ‘what publishers want’ or ‘what’s selling’ but who wants a second-rate copy of someone else’s idea? Write something unique to you and it will stand out from the crowd.”

Jane Johnson, HarperCollins Editor for George R.R. Martin & J.R.R. Tolkien

‘Uniqueness’ Is Promotional Gold

Even if you’re an introvert, if you’ve allowed your true Writer’s Voice to blaze brightly in your work, then rampant passion for it will be set alight.  It will burn like a flame in every syllable as you speak with journalists or book bloggers.  It will radiate through your blog and in everything you release on Twitter and all other social media.  It’ll be sensed instantly by agents, publicists, book store owners and of course by anyone reading your books.

And the spotlight will be turned onto you.

Take a moment to listen to Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury, and you’ll see what I mean.  [30 Second Video.]


And… just in case even the remarkable Mr Bradbury wasn’t enough to inspire you, here’s some more friends to grab you by the collar, throw you against the wall, and make you listen.
-

Ralph Waldo EmersonTo be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make
you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

.

Coco Chanel

“The most courageous act is still
to think for yourself. Aloud.”


― Coco Chanel

.

Bette Midler“Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re
  really a yawn if it goes.”

― Bette Midler

.

Beatrix Potter“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have
rubbed off some of the originality.”

― Beatrix Potter
-

-

This is an emotional subject.  Are you inspired?  Have you discovered your ‘uniqueness’?   Or are you still searching?  Please do leave a comment.

Jonathan Gunson

Article written by Jonathan Gunson

Author / Book Marketing Coach 

 

Notice:  This article is  copyrighted material.  © Copyright Bestseller Labs. Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Jonathan Gunson at BestsellerLabs.com

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Comments

  • RN Wright says:
    November 20, 2013 at 6:40am

    Ray Bradbury inspired me in a curious way with his _Martian Chronicles_. I thought the chapters were wildly uneven, flat in one, pure poetry in the next, and they didn’t all fit with one another. The Martians were violently territorial in the beginning and pacifist later, for instance. But the book had a quality about it. He was not afraid to take chances. With the plots and imagery. With the science. And I thought, dammit why can’t I do that? And it came true!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 6:53am

      RNW, you’ve put your finger right on the hot button with “Bradbury wasn’t afraid to take chances.” Regarding ‘The Martian Chronicles’, that was roughly my reaction as well, although it’s been twenty years since I read them.
      ~ Jonathan
      PS. When was your book ‘American Triptych’ written? (3 stories in one book)

      • January 13, 2014 at 11:45pm

        Love that you chose a clip of Bradbury. He’s one of the major influences in my work and my style, and I was fortunate enough to have met him, quite a few years ago, and to have chatted with him for a few minutes. This was long before I had any serious notions of becoming an author, more’s the pity.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          January 14, 2014 at 1:53am

          Fortunate you are Stephanie to have met Ray Bradbury. You will have a real sense of what he was like. Enables you to put a face and personality to the invaluable advice he left us.
          ~ Jonathan

      • March 31, 2014 at 3:37am

        The short story was finished in 1974, the play in 1985, and the novel in 1988. I’m presently at work on a new set of 3, by happenstance a short story, play, and novel. Thanks for asking.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          April 2, 2014 at 4:30am

          RN W. I’m a relentless admirer of persistence. Most give up, not realizing that victory in book writing is a game of patience.
          ~ Jonathan

    • Elaine M Moore says:
      November 21, 2013 at 6:31pm

      Brilliant article Jonathan. I’ve just had my manuscript assessed by two different editors – long story! Both editors made comments about my ‘writer’s voice’ which temporarily left me with none at all! I couldn’t work out how to revise and please both, or indeed either, and remain true to my original voice. It has been called quirky and charming, but a tad old fashioned for today’s market. Seeing your article and the clip has inspired me to carry on revising, but maintain my ‘quirky voice’ which came so naturally while writing that it just felt right.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        November 21, 2013 at 9:38pm

        Elaine. Long live ‘quirky’!
        ~ Jonathan

    • asif siddiqi says:
      November 21, 2013 at 9:13pm

      The hard work you have done for helping new writers is absolutely wonderful. I have no doubt that your blog will rank the best.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        November 22, 2013 at 5:01am

        Asif
        There’s a great deal more in the pipeline – going into 2014. Stand by.
        ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 6:43am

    Yes, yes, yes – preach it, Jonathan.
    In a world of carbon copies where everyone plays it safe and regurgitates the same stories over and over, this message must be spread further.

    The number one reason why I don’t enjoy reading fiction stories by indie authors is because they often copy successful authors.

    I can’t stand hearing more about vampire love stories, dystopian totalitarian regimes or apocalyptic scenarios with zombies. Been there, read that.

    It’s time for new stories, stories that came from your heart, not from TV and movies.
    I swear it’s fear that prevents people to write in their voice, because that attracts criticism, and most people rather stick to what is known instead of daring something new.

    I make sure that my voice, my style, and my passion shines through my stories, so that they set the world on fire, Mars Dorian style ;)

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    November 20, 2013 at 7:02am

    Mars
    I’m always afraid that you’ll change your Avatar. It’s stand out and unique – pretty much like everything you do. Keep on Sir.
    ~ Jonathan
    PS. I recall you particularly liked Ray Bradbury’s other brilliant video ‘The Lake’. Here is, once more. http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-sell-8-million-books/
    Enjoy.

  • Miranda says:
    November 20, 2013 at 7:33am

    Love, love love this post! Mirrors my thoughts and beliefs about writing. It wasn’t so long ago that I tweeted to my followers, “there is no right or wrong rule. The right rule is what makes you a great writer.” Learned long ago that part of being a great writer is finding your own voice and sticking to it. This is exactly how I run my blog, especially as a book reviewer.

    Running off now to tweet something else, “Hang the rules! Write straight out of your heart.” :):)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:49am

      Miranda.
      That’s the spirit.
      However it doesn’t surprise me at all that so many cling to the ‘safety’ of a current fad.
      We all have to start somewhere, and plain truth is, everything is built on what has gone before. I also think it’s OK to be highly derivative while we learn. We need to copy to ‘find out’.
      Most works of fiction are at least in part a ‘mashup’ which reminds me, have you seen this insightful video?
      Everything Is A Remix…. http://vimeo.com/25380454
      ~ Jonathan

  • Margaret Taylor says:
    November 20, 2013 at 7:37am

    I think my style, my voice is unique as well.

    My Spi-Corp series is group of books (18 in all as I’ve mentioned before) that starts out here on Earth, introduces you to the Universe as *I* see it (read: totally made it up) and over the course of the 18 books, galavants you across the stars and back again. Along the way, you meet some wonderfully unique races (The Mutarians and the Fellarians to name two) and characters (Erika John Starr Sisko Killkenny Jackson MacPherson, Princess Tecka to the Royal House of Mutarians and her Brother Cresta to name two).

    Each of the books can stand all on it’s own, even though they are part of the bigger picture known as “The Universe as I See It”!

    All of my work comes from the heart and each book deals with a relatable issue. In Book 1 for example, it’s partly about bullying – and it’s lasting after effects and being strong enough to not let it define you – survival and in the end, recapturing a first love.

    In Book 2 (coming out this week – Sorry Sir Jonathon some shameless self-promo there :D) we deal with drug induced mental illness…Oh and a psycho sentient space station intent on killing all the wonderfully fun characters you meet along the way.

    And on down the line it goes. I’ve tried, with each book, to not only give readers fantastical tales of a great and grand Universe, but also make the story unique and relatable.

    Thanks, as always, for a fun blog! You need to do this more often! We miss you…:D

    Margaret

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:00am

      Margaret
      The way you introduce various themes is verging on the masterful. (e.g. Bullying)
      Re “Shameless self promotion”: Please DO put a link to your existing SPI-CORP series in a new comment, so I can keep a watching brief for when the newest arrival actually arrives.
      ~ Jonathan

      • Margaret Taylor says:
        November 20, 2013 at 8:06am

        Sir Jonathon,

        Thank you. :D

        Book 1 – A First Love Never Dies is here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D5UWYC4

        Book 2 – Saving His Love: should be out in the next couple of days. (It’s due back from the Formatter sometime tomorrow and then it’s only a matter of the upload.) I’ll drop back by and let you know when it’s live if you like.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 20, 2013 at 8:13am

          Thanks Margaret. Perfect.
          ~ Jonathan

          • Margaret Taylor says:
            November 21, 2013 at 2:07pm

            Thank you Sir Jonathon,

            As promised, here’s the link for Book 2! It is now live and in living color. :D

            Saving His Love – Book 2 of The Spi-Corp Series: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GTJI3L4

            Thanks again for all your blog posts, your guidance and insights over the last months has been priceless!

            Margaret

        • November 20, 2013 at 2:46pm

          Jonathan, what a pleasure to read this post. Once again, you offer gems we can take away and apply to our own work. I’ve been working on my novel for let’s say years, as I’ve lost count, but each successive draft is better than the last. I’m now planning for a spring launch. Yay!

          I’m always amazed at those who can churn out stories in an incredibly short time. But as you correctly point out, it doesn’t happen overnight. Like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Yes, he wrote it in a very short time, but that was after years of honing his craft, and years of dealing with one rejection after another.

          Each writer is unique, with a unique history. To trust that voice and allow it to emerge on the page is a gift we often leave unwrapped. Thanks again for your generosity.

          • November 20, 2013 at 5:54pm

            Your timing is amazing. I’m about to dive into a new project. Doubt dances at my doorstep. Out of my way! I’m going to give it a try!

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            November 20, 2013 at 8:52pm

            Diana
            There’s no particular time frame if you love what you do. The book will emerge when it will, although one particular thing of which I’m acutely aware is that a schedule will benefit an artist or writer just as much as anyone else.
            See Maeve Binchy’s writing secret http://bestsellerlabs.com/maeve-binchy-her-writing-secrets-interview/
            ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 7:44am

    “Write With A Fire In Your Heart…” sums up the best moments as a writer, doesn’t it?!

    To be swept along with the story; your heart beating slightly faster as you try to type to keep up with the urgency of the words.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:08am

      Peter
      Absolutely with you re being swept along. I tend to live by the Ray Bradbury mantra: “You must stay drunk on writing, otherwise reality will destroy you.” I suspect that both you and I live in that never-never land permanently.
      ~Jonathan

    • Marge Prohofsky says:
      March 23, 2014 at 7:20pm

      I’m with Peter Sayer~ following the passion of the story is where it’s at for me, too!…and my heart does beat faster…hmmm…
      Although, I do grin with Ray Bradbury’s, “You must stay drunk on writing, otherwise reality will destroy you.”
      Thanks, Jonathan for digging up the encouraging words from fellow authors, I enjoyed reading your blog.

      Just one to add…Kate DiCamillo reached out to new authors during an MPR interview and encouraged us (I took her words to heart) to enjoy writing the first novel/book because it’s truly your own: without pressure, without time constraints and without expectations.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        March 23, 2014 at 8:55pm

        Marge
        Saw your Twitter comment thank you. Agree with Kate DiCamillo – enjoy that first book.
        ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 7:46am

    Hi Jonathan
    You put your finger right on it. And of course we have to respect our readers’ intelligence as well by being consistently and recognizably good. It’s no good to disappoint new fans by writing a second (or third, or tenth, for that matter) book without the dedication and fire that gave birth to the first one (and boy, am I trying)!
    Regards
    John

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:56am

      John
      Agree re the energy required to keeping the creative fires ablaze. It’s why I included the Ray Bradbury video. I’ve watched it about 10 times.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 7:49am

    Thanks for this Jonathan … it’s soooooooo completely true. It’s simple like: if you talk to your friends you use your own voice and say what you think and feel, or not? In writing you go even several layers deeper … and yes, it takes courage.

    Sunny and dry greetings
    from Windhoek

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:54am

      Kara
      Using the same voice as when talking with friends, except several layers deeper. That’s outstanding. And re ‘Courage’, never a truer word spoken.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 7:53am

    I am unique and I believe my difference would show up in my writing. Anyway I keep hearing about that ‘Voice’ and I think you explain it clearly. On the other hand I think my uniqueness might be too much for some people who are looking for the regular.
    Will see how this works out with my upcoming romance memoir.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:05am

      Claudette
      If you honestly let your deepest inspiration drive the writing, I’m certain it will be highly readable. It has nothing to do with being either a ‘regular story’ or a ‘different story’. It’s more a case of the writing coming across as authentic, whatever the story.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 8:11am

    Hi Jonathan
    Thanks for this. Day one on Goodreads with my unique book, as called by those who have read it so far and I get high-jacked by a bunch of Bookreads, author vigilantes, who severely punished me for liking my own book.

    Yes maybe arrogant of me but after 8 years writing, not sleeping, plotting, and finally publishing, I had the bare faced cheek to want to tell the entire world that I had done it!!
    All 1* comments and verbal abuse came at once, hitting me in the face and knocking my teeth out and my ratings went from 4.75 to 2.7. They, the vigilante’s have all been blocked, but their, 1* star (I have never heard of your book but don’t like you) remains.

    My point is Jonathan, that this article, right now has encouraged me to fight back. My writing style is unique because I don’t read much, therefore have no template. I wrote a book with war coming in half way through it and thought I had gone too far with the graphic description of blood and bones, horror and dialogue…no, my readers love it, for just that reason. My 714 page effort, liked or not, has come from straight from my heart and on to the pages. Thanks again. Because of reading this blog today I shall continue to be me; unafraid of my words.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:21am

      Jana
      ” I shall continue to be me; unafraid of my words.” Brilliant attitude.
      I should also not pay too much attention to idiotic reviews. Thing is, some people are devoid of personality. Instead they claw together a faux personality through the negative. It would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. All in all I’d advise wearing your best hard hat when striding the trenches as an author. Never let them wear you down.
      And remember, no-one has ever erected a statue to a critic!
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 20, 2013 at 10:16am

        Thanks Jonathan, your words help and I know they are from your heart. Onwards and Upwards. When negativity is thrown at me I shall throw it back like a ball and let misery catch it.
        Until next time

        Jana

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 22, 2013 at 5:02am

          On we go then.
          ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 8:35am

    Moments of brilliance does shine from every unique compliment of this magnificent universe we’re part of. Sadly most of us can’t see it because of our constant self-criticism and our inability to accept that we are enough. I am certainly guilty of this and this truly makes me a master on the subject of self-loathing. Nevertheless, I had the most extraordinary experience while writing my book. It has been criticized, but in a good way. My blog is a true reflection of what I write and mostly just how I experience the world around me. I think the day I decided that everyone will have an opinion about what write and that I should not take it personally was the best day ever. It became easier to put one foot over the fine rainbow separating light from dark and now, with toes doused in warm sunlight, I have found a safe footing for the rest of my steps to follow. I received a compliment some time ago (it only became a compliment to me after reading your post) that my writing style and ideas reminded a reader of Ray Bradbury. I never took the time to find out more about him, but shall make that my quest for today. Thank you for some great insights and may your day be blessed beyond imagination. I was really at the verge of just giving up today… KL

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:01am

      Karin
      Fate works in mysterious ways. I’ve just been to your site and discovered a treasure – the video you have there of the Schindler’s List violin concerto. A mesmerizing, sweetly melancholy piece.
      Regarding the amazing compliment you received when being compared with Ray Bradbury, here is another post about his work. In particular watch the 3 minute video. It could have been made just for you.
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-sell-8-million-books
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 20, 2013 at 9:44am

        Thank you. This alleviates my soul from so much questioning and wondering. One day I’ll repay you for your kindness – KL

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 22, 2013 at 5:04am

          Karin
          Keep on writing. That’ll be my best reward.
          ~Jonathan

  • Sue Brown says:
    November 20, 2013 at 8:42am

    I think that having the confidence to keep your unique voice is something new authors find hard to do. To find a publisher and an editor that allows that is a valuable asset.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:53am

      Sue
      Agree re it being hard to do. It is in fact REALLY hard to do which is one of the reasons I made this post – in recognition of how difficult it is to maintain an independent writing stance, and to encourage and validate writers who do so. Such writers are the future of our art.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 8:46am

    Excellent point, Jonathan. I can still look at my book and think “this is me”. It’s my sense of humor, my twisted look on things. It doesn’t have the mainstream appeal of a Dan Brown novel, but so what? You can only really be you.

    Bart

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:14am

      Bart
      Sometimes I fear I’m leading a flock into no-mans land! Then I remember the ‘Top five regrets of the dying’. Right at the top of the list is this:

      “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 9:12am

    Thank you so much for that inspiring piece of advice. I myself love reading fantasy-somewhere I can escape to. I am at present writing my sixth novel and am finding it incredibly difficult to get past the opening chapters. Why? Because I have this notion in the back of my mind…what will people that I know think when they read this? Is it too ‘way out?’ I know where I want to go with it but my grounding as an ex teaching assistant (fairly well known locally) is holding me back and whispering, “Keep it more conservative.”
    Well…you’ve convinced me to go after my heart and write what I would like to read. So there!
    Thanks Jonathan.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:21am

      Maureen
      Peer pressure can present as a ghastly spectre. It is also the most common cause of ‘writers’ block’. So here is a post (in case you haven’t seen it) that will give you a pathway out of hell. Always more than delighted to hear from you.
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 20, 2013 at 9:41am

        Hey! Thanks again for the second posting about overcoming writers block. I particularly liked Coleen Hoover’s comment about removing the pressure of publication allowing her to ‘enjoy’ the writing experience.
        Keep on with these pearls of wisdom…they’re great.
        Maureen.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 22, 2013 at 5:05am

          “What other people think” seems to rule our existence.
          ~Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 9:13am

    It seems such a simple concept to find your own voice and write using that unique voice in a world dictated by what people want to read. When I told my publisher I was finishing a romance novel they said it had to have erotica in it because of Fifty Shades of Grey. People now want to read erotica. Trouble is I don’ want to read explicit erotic novels and certainly not write it (at least in that copy cat style). I am proud of my first novel and know it has it’s own unique voice (years of talking to clients made it easy to put the story together in my voice). Hope that makes sense.
    To those who made comments on criticism my believe is that social media encourages everyone to become a critic, an expert and that way become famous. We used to run an accommodation business and suddenly everyone felt the need to comment on various websites about the accommodation- a whole new world opened up to me. And just think about the daily news, they are always about bad things, rarely about good things. That is how people think they have to be negative.
    Change the world I say and broadcast good news and pay someone a compliment every now and again, maybe even everyday.
    Here I go – great post and great comments everyone.
    Tanya :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:24am

      Tanya
      I’m a sucker for shining optimism :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 9:54am

    Hi Jonathan, thank you for a wonderful post. I wrote a book that was uniquely different and it took me a bloody long time to find a publisher who believed in it like I did. A few publishers were interested, but wanted me to change certain controversial elements. Doing that was never an option for me. I’m glad I persisted because now I’m so very proud of the book I finally got published. But in saying that, I know why authors tend to regurgitate tried and tested themes, because that’s easier to get published.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:59am

      Kendall
      This is the dilemma – the trade-off almost every author faces. Art v Money? Never easy.
      Fact is, sometimes the mortgage looms so large that most cave in and go for the pay check. But the overriding point is that doing so is to grasp at an illusion. The work will inevitably suffer as result, because it will lack the presence of an author’s soul – and consequently fail to produce any really substantial sales.
      Better by far to pitch ones hat at art / love. Because looking back 20 years later the writer artist brave enough to do so will pale at the memory of how they nearly caved in. They’ll come across others who did fall, cave in and ended up sans art, and whisper “There but for the grace of God go I.”
      This is in truth my own story Kendall. I look back and bless the days I took the hard roads.
      Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 10:05am

    Very true, Jonathan. But sometimes having your own voice also means there won’t be a huge audience for your work. I write gay erotic paranormal fantasy and repeatedly hear my books are totally unlike anything a reader has read before. One of my books is currently a finalist in Rainbow Awards, another one received Compulsion Reads endorsement, and still it doesn’t mean there is a big readership for them. Anyway, I don’t complain. I write the books for my men (characters) and myself. There is no way I would trade off our joy and satisfaction with having the story told exactly as we want for a compromise that would bring larger following but also would rob our tales of their essence.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:14am

      Ciaran
      “…a compromise that would bring larger following but also would rob our tales of their essence.” Powerful stuff – and good to hear. But remember that ‘Voice’ has more to do with the writing itself that floods from deep within, from the heart rather than choice of genre or subject material, although that has a bearing on it.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 10:20am

    Thanks for this wonderful article Johnathan. Really appreciate.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:15am

      Welcome back!
      Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 10:25am

    Love this. Thank you, Jonathan. And yes, I am inpired. Not seen that Ray Bradbury clip before and it’s fizzing in my chest with the excitement already there from a blow-me-away review for my next book. Woohoo.
    I agree with you and others on here: write as you and your heart, humour, fun and adventure flies on to the page. It’s such a treat to have the opportunity to give others the delights that we receive as readers.
    Happy writing, peeps! :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:23am

      Liane
      Congratulations on the review. Heart warming to say the least.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 10:34am

    Thanks for this. Every now and then it’s good to hear someone else say write what you want to write – you don’t have to write to some formula. I write scifi, but I still ask myself ‘what would I feel?’ in a situation and take it from there. In my own blog I write about things as diverse as robots and androids and what are the best chocolate biscuits for writers! The latest http://wp.me/p3ycbY-df gives 5 reasons why I think writers should blog – It improves your writing, because you’re voicing your own opinions .

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:25am

      Ian
      Definitely with you on the blogging points. Fact is I’m planning to blog more frequently. I find it grows easier the more prolific I am.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 10:34am

    Great post, as always, Jonathan.

    The passion is always there for me, it is finding the time to put that passion into a story without getting divorced or losing my day job that is the challenge for me.

    I love the Ray Bradbury video – how inspiring! “You just gotta do it!” Great – sums it all up really.

  • November 20, 2013 at 10:46am

    Another great post, Jonathan. I love all the inspirational comments as well.
    I think writing, especially when it comes from the heart, brings out the best in people.
    I write the kinds of stories I like to read. When I was young I used to make up stories to entertain my cousins. When I had children of my own I would either read to them every night from one of my favourite authors (Tolkien for example) or invent my own tales. Now that they’re all grown and have flown the nest, I felt it was time to be brave and share my stories with the world.
    My favourite subjects at school were English and Ancient History, so the obvious extension of that was to weave those mythological gods into my stories. I’m pleased to say I’ve avoided the stereotypes though, so your advice to “write in your own voice”, definitely resonated with me.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:32am

      Maggie
      We must belong to the same club – inventing tales for our children. Rewarding.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:24am

    Hi Jonathan, the post strikes home. I try to “live” what I’m writing in the hope that I can make the reader feel part of it. I try too to make my characters believable. You can love them or hate them but always believe them.

    As a former lawyer, some time criminal defence, I am used to hearing fantasy…most of which was unbelievable, fanciful and far-fetched. I try to write from that experience and I won’t lose hope.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:34am

      Graeme
      Believable characters drawn from life experience… you’re mining a rich seam indeed.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:24am

    I can hear the passion and the humor in Ray’s voice. Yes. That’s what we should strive for. Thank you for bringing it to my attention again.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:30am

      Francene.
      That’s my takeaway too re Bradbury. Love his empathy and the way he laughs with the students.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:36am

    Yes!! This is an excellent point and such a timely reminder. I like the way you approach the topic :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:54pm

      We all need a gentle shove from time to time Renee.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Lisa W says:
    November 20, 2013 at 11:55am

    I have been laughed at, called different, and even thought of as strange. It’s more so because I have five college degrees, I am highly educate in a science field, and I am trying to transition my life away from it all to write! That is because writing is my passion! There is fire on my heart and in my finger tips with every stroke of the pen or the key board! I catch myself smiling after every few words! I found my true passion years ago, and although many discourage me as writing is no where lucrative as my first career choice, I can’t seem to let it go. I have had a motto for years that I have shared with others, and sadly I only recently began living by it myself. I put it on every presentation I do. I do not know who the original author is, but many have told me that it truly inspired them.
    “If you truly expect to realize your dreams, then abandon the need for blanket approval. If conforming to everyone’s expectations of you is your number one goal, then you have sacrificed your uniqueness, and therefore your excellence” unknown

    Thank you for inspiring me this morning!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:03pm

      Lisa
      Quoting you: “If you truly expect to realize your dreams, then abandon the need for blanket approval…” Perfect. But unfortunately, most young people, until they wake up, desperately conform to the norms of their peers, and completely suppress any form of individuality. To completely conform is to be uber-cool. But a more accurate word is ‘clone’. And no writer can succeed as a clone.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:56am

    Great post, thank you, love Ray’s enthusiasm.

    I first classed my work as ‘trash for girls to read on the beach’ so that I wouldn’t have to live up to high expectations and could therefore (selfishly) write what I wanted.

    But now that I have readers (there is a niche for trash :-) who give courage, demanding more, I owe it to them and me to just write from the guts of my heart, that deep level that not many go to… I love them for that, they keep me ‘true’. I would do it for free if I could.

    Writing for publisher’s or agent’s ‘safe’ whims/cycles/popular phases is boring… be brave, push boundaries, move them forward… there are some folk out there that are just longing to hear your ‘voice’, be triggered by your particular ‘magic’, your ‘entertainment’.

    Sx

    • November 20, 2013 at 12:21pm

      Ray was a Leo (sunny) with Moon in Sagittarius (optimistic) so he obviously will appeal to other Fire signs….
      I think certain signs don’t get quite as excited about anything….and a lot of Writers are Virgos….
      I agree though, you can’t write well if you’re writing ‘for’ someone or not for yourself first and foremost. You have to write something you’d enjoy reading yourself, otherwise, as you say, your ‘voice’ will be stilted.
      I also agree if you don’t truly, madly, deeply NEED to write the book you’re writing, then it certainly will show in your words.

      I had an editor say (one of my first books) sounded ‘tired’ and to tell you the truth, I was tired of the subject I was writing about, because I wasn’t writing Astrology….which is my passion….
      Great post as ever, Thanx Jonathan….Good Luck with your apps!!
      xx

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        November 20, 2013 at 9:11pm

        Mary
        “… if you don’t truly, madly, deeply NEED to write the book you’re writing, then it certainly will show in your words…” Perchance to dream? Yea!
        ~ Jonathan

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:08pm

      Siobhan
      Firstly, you’ve dubbed your work ‘trash for girls to read on the beach’ so you wouldn’t have to live up to high expectations. Truth is, ‘expectations’ can stifle any writer. (It stopped Hemingway in his tracks for years until he finally penned ‘The Old Man And The Sea’.) See my article on writer’s block. http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever
      Secondly, I’ll add that you have an utterly winning point of view: Quoting you “I write from the guts of my heart, that deep level that not many go to… I love them for that, they keep me ‘true’. I would do it for free if I could.” Love it.
      Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 12:43pm

    So true, Jonathan. As always. Great blog post. I write what could be deemed “Christian fiction”, but it is also something that defies a category. I try to put a new spin on anything I write, and that takes dedication, passion and hard work.

    I would add that fire is indeed necessary, but a background message or theme whether conscious or not should be present, and multiple themes are even better. This can be handled in the outline of a novel or short story.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:58pm

      Roger
      Agree entirely re theme… or several themes. A story is far more involving (and easier to write) when the writer has something to say yes?
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 12:50pm

    In the beginning, I didn’t realize my voice until a reader pointed it out in a discussion and in detail.
    Knowing that someone wants to hear my voice is the best compliment.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    -Em

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:12pm

      That’s a victory Emily, a pure unadulterated victory.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Jim says:
    November 20, 2013 at 12:54pm

    Jonathan,

    Great post. I love what you say, but more importantly, I am really impressed at your responses. You take the time to craft a thoughtful response to each comment with no two alike. If I got anything out of this post, it is your sincerity in responding to your fans. Thank you for showing the way.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:44pm

      Jim
      I value the interactive aspect even more than creating the posts. It’s a type of ‘paying it forward.’ All the responses are highly energizing for me. For all social media the central principle that I’ve discovered always pays is ‘cease presenting and start connecting’.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 1:01pm

    Jonathan, thanks for the post. I’ve been a fan of Bradbury since I could read. Took up novel writing at the ripe young age of 69 after 40 years as a professional actor. In the last three years, my writing partner have released eight novels averaging around 100,000 words each. All have spent up to 27 consecutive weeks in Amazon’s Top 100 in sales in their genera. We’ve gotten 347 reviews averaging 4.6. Our critics say we write too much; that we sacrifice quality for quantity. Our sales say not.
    I’ve always walked to the beat of a different drummer. Don’t outline. Don’t pay attention to the so-called story arc or character arc. Don’t give a damn about the three act system…We just create the characters, give them a general scenario and let them tell the story. Someone asked recently what I did for writers block. I said I didn’t have a clue. Never experienced it. Got more stories squirming around in my head than Carter has Liver Pills. Currently working on three different novels in three different genera at the same time. Writers write. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:53pm

      Ken
      Your comment should be a blog post in it own right. What a fascinating life, and you appear to be unaffected by the storms of critique. (That may have something to do with being an actor.) The way you write is often referred to as Pantsing i.e. writing by the seat of your pants, with no clear plan. It doesn’t give a fig for structural conventions either. If it works … it works. It’s often the only way some writers can do it, and can produce extraordinary results. Legitimate too with no explanation required.
      They say you write too much. Poppycock. What counts is whether the story works and your ‘writer voice’ is running hot. By the success and number of positive reviews, it most certainly must be.
      Jonathan

      • November 20, 2013 at 10:21pm

        Thanks, Jonathan, I don’t blog, probably should, but just don’t seem to have the time. I do have to fess up, wrote screen and teleplays for twenty-five years before jumping into novel writing. Had a buddy from my Marine Corps days ask if I could adapt a novel he wrote into a screen play. I said, sure send it down. He did…a three hundred and fifty thousand word novel. “My God, why didn’t you just sent War and Peace.” Well, long story short, ten weeks later we had a 123 page feature screenplay. He screamed and hollered about the stuff we cut out, but I told him, “If it doesn’t further the story, lose it.” Right then and there we decided, “Hell, we can write a novel…and we did. Twelve weeks later we finished our first. A 110,000 word action novel.
        I kinda feel that dialogue is my forte with a degree in drama and 40 years as a screen/TV actor, dialogue is a piece of cake. I strongly encourage all fiction writers to take an acting workshop or two. You won’t believe the difference it will make in writing dialogue.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 20, 2013 at 10:40pm

          Ken
          “If it doesn’t further the story, lose it…” Says it all. Years ago I attended a 3 day bootcamp with TV and movie guru Robert McKee on STORY. He made the identical point.
          ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 1:01pm

    Very useful. I particularly agree with writing the book that YOU yourself would want to read.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 7:56pm

      Yea! As The Bard would say.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 1:16pm

    Thanks for giving me more incentive. I no longer cringe when people look pityingly at me, when they find out that I am a writer. I love to write. I started to write, because a columnist threw out the challenge to readers: “So you think you can write a novel?” I am hopelessly hooked and I center my novels around current affairs that interest me or need to be addressed. I enjoyed the short videos about Ray Bradbury. Used to watch his series on TV. Like Ray Bradbury I write for me.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:14pm

      Heide
      “I am hopelessly hooked..” says it all.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Jody says:
    November 20, 2013 at 1:47pm

    As always, this blog is inspiring, awesome, exciting, wonderful, extraordinary, marvelous and truly good. Too much? Okay, let’s just say I really like it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:15pm

      Thanks Jody. That’s somewhere north of an Oscar.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 1:54pm

    Thanks so much for this post, Jonathan. Really needed it today. Have finally committed to bringing my passion for animal welfare into my writing with a series (LONG term project), but it can be discouraging to be writing on a subject that few people want to know about. Your advice is always helpful!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:17pm

      Robin
      Wildlife conservation is a central interest of mine – parallels your animal welfare focus and determination. If your heart’s in it it’ll pay off. Onwards!
      ~ Jonathan

  • Savannah says:
    November 20, 2013 at 2:06pm

    Wow! I just read your article and watched to the video and I feel like I’ve uncovered a gold mine. The concept is obvious, yet brilliant. I love it!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 8:19pm

      Savannah
      No question. The inner you is your writer’s gold mine.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Elizabeth A Martina says:
    November 20, 2013 at 2:11pm

    I was so glad to read all these posts, especially Ken Farmer’s. My problem as a newly serious writer is more story than organization. I have been working on a novel based on a true murder from 100 years ago. I have so much detail but not a lot of depth. When my first draft was read by a published author, I was told there were too many characters. But I have fun with the multiplicity of things. Maybe the rule of only two or three main characters is one I don’t have to follow after all! The fun of writing shouldn’t be trumped by the correctness of writing. I will embrace the concept!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:51pm

      Elizabeth.
      You need as many characters as you need. But the thing is, people do like to identify with and follow the fortunes of one particular person. It’s not an absolute rule, but largely it does tend to pay, because a reader can then feel deeply the crisis that character faces and live it with them at every step. It’s all about the story having a strong emotional core. But if you can achieve that in the way you’re already working, then carry on regardless.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 2:40pm

    This is such an inspiration. Saving this one in the file of posts to read when I’m not sure I’ll ever get where I hope to get with my writing. “Write with a fire inside.” You would think this would be intuitive, and yet sometimes when we sit to write, we shut down instead – turning the storytelling into some kind of puzzle to figure out. Thanks so much for this advice.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:58pm

      Serenity
      Re. “Write with a fire in your heart.”
      Truth is, at the outset, I used to do the same jig-saw puzzle thing to which you refer, until I figured out it’s really all about what’s going on between the characters. Do they love or hate each other? Sometimes I look back at my early thinking in sheepish mortification. But… we all have to start somewhere
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 3:09pm

    Thanks for another great article, Jonathan.
    My first novel basically demanded that it be written, and I was the one it chose to write it. I paid little to no attention to “voice” or “plot” or “devices” until after the story flowed, then got a little more self-analytical in the editing.

    I’m now working on the second one, a sequel to (and spoiler for) the first one, and this time I’m consciously “pushing the envelope” and then taking a few steps beyond. And wondering how much of that I’ll cut back on when I get to the editing bit.

    I got a lot out of Hemingway’s four words: “Write drunk, edit sober”; even though I don’t drink, it’s been inspiring. (And I found Ken Farmer’s comment pretty cool, too.)

    “Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!” (Well, one, I guess: “Make it readable.”) (Oh, maybe one more: “Don’t write down to readers’ levels. Sneakily bring them up to yours.”) (And maybe one more: “Don’t lead readers around by the nose. Let (or Make) them read between the lines; imply, don’t just smack ‘em in the face.”) (Or maybe — oh, shut up, Jake! Get back to writing da booky thang.)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:02pm

      Jake.
      Ha ha. My entertainment for the day.
      And, regarding your line “Don’t write down to readers’ levels. Sneakily bring them up to yours.” This offhand bit of laconic actually conveys a particularly insightful point.
      Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 3:19pm

    Thanks. I agree completely and it is good to see I am not a lone
    star gazing romancer. I’ve done non-fiction for years. Couple of months ago
    I published my first Vic novel. It felt wonderful. I’ve only gotten a few reviews and all
    are good but one three star. It bothered me at first but after reading it a couple of times
    one point helped and I realized two of three points were things that, if a million dollar consultant had told me before writing, I wouldn’t change. They had a purpose. Cross your T’s so people won’t mistake them for an I not because they’re worth a dollar. Done.

    The second Vic novel is almost complete and the skeletons of at least two more are already screaming to get out. I’d like to sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money. Wouldn’t everyone? But whether Vic does that or not, there will be a series because I’m having a good time, saying things I want to say, doing some purging I suspect
    and hopefully it will be entertaining to some and even be educational to some. That would be the icing.

    So if you feel you must write something you have no interest in just to make dollars,
    save some time to write that thing that feels good, too. Every day because it feels good and it’s good for your heart.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:05pm

      Jerry
      “…The second Vic novel is almost complete and the skeletons of at least two more are already screaming to get out.” This tells me everything I need to know. Keep me posted.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 3:38pm

    Inspiring … and I agree with the business of cultivating a unique voice … but I’m not sure how that attracts readers … it might help keep them AFTER they’ve found you, but marketing is the prime component of that feat.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:16pm

      Christopher

      ‘Writer’s Voice’ is in fact the foundation of your marketing. Let me repro the relevant section of the post:

      “…Even if you’re an introvert, if you’ve allowed your true Writer’s Voice to blaze brightly in your work, then rampant passion for it will be set alight. It will burn like a flame in every syllable as you speak with journalists or book bloggers. It will radiate through your blog and in everything you release on Twitter and all other social media. It’ll be sensed instantly by agents, publicists, book store owners and of course by anyone reading your books… And the spotlight will be turned onto you…”

      ~ Jonathan

  • Paul Turk says:
    November 20, 2013 at 4:39pm

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for the inspiring and very encouraging article. I was a trial attorney for thirty years and changed careers several years ago to write fictional legal novels with Christian themes. So far, three of my books have been published, and are known as the “Taylor Series.” Currently, I’m finishing up a fourth book which is a spin off from the trilogy.

    My writings focus on faith, hope, love, life and law. I love writing them and never look back to my career change, no matter how many books I may or may not sell. It is a joy to get up in the morning and work at something that is truly meaningful to me in my life, and hopefully, in the life of my current and future readers.

    Thanks again for your post and sage advice. It is greatly appreciated.

    Paul Turk

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:25pm

      Paul
      A trilogy no less! This earlier post will get you fired up: http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-hottest-tip-no-fiction-writer-can-afford-to-ignore/ And no, you’ll never regret the change of career. The wisdom of it will become increasingly apparent. I’ve put this quote in another comment, but it’s entirely apt here too:
      From ‘Top five regrets of the dying’. Right at the top of the list is this:
      “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
      This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 4:51pm

    As always, you are bang-on with your points, Jonathan. As you know, I recently encountered some negative comments from a family member regarding my writing prospects. Although he acknowledged that writing may be my “passion”, doubted I would ever actually be successful at it from a business perspective, because “so few ever make it a worthwhile venture.”

    So many times we encounter people who smile politely and tell us we have a nice “hobby”, as it “gives us something to do”. My response; smile, grit my teeth and think to myself “Watch me! I’m going places you could never dream of.”

    As writers we receive rejection in many forms throughout our career, and it can be disheartening to hear. What I know for sure though, is that if I allow the naysayers and doubters to affect my vision, my writing will likewise suffer. Writers must stay focused and committed to themselves, their work, and their vision for the future. The level of personal success is measured from within, rather than from without.

    As for finding my writer’s voice, it’s taken me a while (almost 4 years), but I recently realized that I’ve had it all along. I am a communicator, and a connector; hence I try to connect with others via verbal and written words to express the many facets of the human condition, including our failures. If we learn from the mistakes we make, we can move onto the successes that much faster.

    Thank you for this post, Jonathan.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:52pm

      Debbie
      Re ‘Naysayers’.
      The only way to cope with their charisma bypass is by invoking the negative. Often amuses me, sometime enrages. Here’s something to sling at your tormentor: “I don’t think there’s many statues erected to doctors, but writers? See http://bookriot.com/2013/02/06/from-ink-to-bronze-10-impressive-author-sculptures/
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:01pm

    Thanks for the quotes of inspiration.

    J.D. Salinger argued that before we are writers, we are readers, and that our job is to write the story that we want to read the most! Add Ray Bradbury’s passion to writing that story, and you have a powerful drive and purpose.

    Thanks for reaching out!

    -Tim

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:56pm

      Tim
      The more reading the better. I’m generally insatiable in my specific genre. Constantly learning, absorbing, remixing…
      ~ Jonathan

  • Jan Moran says:
    November 20, 2013 at 5:06pm

    Wonderful post, Jonathan, thanks for sharing! I, too, have always been a writer, but for the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to focus on writing. To those who are hesitant, I say “just begin.”

    A few years ago I read an article about ebook publishing. I had already successfully self-published and distributed nonfiction hardcover books (those were the days of 10,000 minimum print runs), but fiction–well, that was a real challenge. I dusted off a manuscript that had been rejected many times, edited it again, and voila–it began to climb the charts, albeit slowly. Once I got the hang of marketing, if climbed a little faster and received more reviews. It wasn’t perfect, but something seemed to resonate with readers. Voice, I believe. Can’t force it, can’t fake it. Don’t be anyone but you.

    The happy ending is that St. Martin’s Press acquired it, and now I’m working with a great editor on a second novel. Wherever you are, just begin! There has never been a better time to be a writer.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:57pm

      Jan
      Editors are GODS.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:08pm

    Jonathan, I agree with you. The funny thing is that I’ve published in the early morning a similar blog post in Italian: http://www.lucarossi369.com/2013/11/le-opere-che-nessuno-ha-mai-creato.html :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 10:58pm

      Luca
      Great minds … :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:12pm

    Hi Jonathan, and thanks for drawing my attention to this post. I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough recently in just this area, so your advice is timely. You’re excellent at energizing and motivating.

    I’m a newcomer to your community–I just bought your Twitter for Authors course package, and am working my way through it (first had to make my way through the freebies you threw in!). It’s all very helpful and positive, and you yourself walk the walk. No buyer’s remorse for me.

    I intend to implement as much of your advice as I can. I have a Twitter account and a website; now let’s see if I can rub those sticks together to generate some sparks, perchance a flame…. If you want to see how this pilgrim progresses, check in from time to time.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and your genius for author marketing.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:08pm

      Paul
      Enjoy the Twitter course. It took quite some time to make it user-friendly, so feedback is always appreciated. BTW. I’ll be making a slight update shortly: I’ve discovered that when putting links in Tweets, I also now use the new ‘images’ feature in Twitter for putting relevant images in Tweets (e.g. for announcing this blog post). If I do this, the number of clicks triples.
      One other CRUCIAL thing: Beware of turning into a ‘social media train wreck’! See post: http://bestsellerlabs.com/social-media-train-wreck-that-authors-must-avoid/
      ~Jonathan

      • November 21, 2013 at 1:41am

        Thanks for the tip. Never fear: this tortoise still hasn’t found the starting line….

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 27, 2013 at 8:57am

          It does pay to actually be in the race.
          ~ Jonathan

  • Craig says:
    November 20, 2013 at 5:22pm

    Great post! I think it’s amazing that you are working on children’s iPad apps, that sounds like so much fun! I’ve always been interested in the game writing industry.

    I currently explore my passion for science, technology, and innovation (and writing!) by posting about articles in a blog and then trying to write a story that goes with whatever technology I highlighted. It’s a great way to generate new ideas and learn a lot along the way!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:11pm

      Craig
      The imagination is our greatest gift. Glad to see you’re not letting it slip through your fingers.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:22pm

    A saying I came up with comes back to my mind: “Ambition is like First Love, if you don’t win out, you never get over it.” Substitute ‘writing’ for ambition and I think it still sounds okay.
    One of my beliefs is that ‘diversity is intrinsically good.’ Unique is good, but commonplace is is good, too. Diary of a Nobody now comes to mind.
    So, beware. A voice of your own ‘to which readers can relate (eventually),’ may be the wholesome advice, here.
    I think a tacit responsibility for writers relates to civilising? Enabling readers to be changed for the better, to see some aspect(s) of the world more wholesomely. Can a voice which doesn’t do this ever achieve long-term validity?
    But, nice one: Jonathon! Keep up the good work. You are becoming one of my current heroes on the written word!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:36pm

      Godffrey
      Agree with all that you say except that you are confusing two things. Subject material and message such as ‘civilising’ (with which I agree) are not ‘Writer’s Voice’. The message you convey or the ethos you promote is a matter of deliberate choice. The passion with which you write it is your ‘Writer’s Voice’.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:27pm

    I have always believed that the immortality of any creation or act can only be achieved by being genuine, and being genuine can only spark if expressed passionately.

    In these somehow unfortunate days, it’s nice to read an article that’s relaying the right message of: may the best passionately/genuinely written book win; instead of: may the best advertised/selling book win…

    Thank you for this beyond momentous post; sure helps with bringing us back to the magical roots and wings of creativity in all its shapes and sizes.

    I can only conclude by two humongous words… THANK YOU!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:43pm

      Samar
      The undeniable point I’m making doesn’t always appeal to the ‘entitled’ Y generation, who ‘want it now’. Finding voice takes time. But in the end, looking down the long slant of the years, it’s the genuinely personal voices that always hold sway and have the greatest success.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:38pm

    This blog was quite timely for me. I was just looking through the outline for my next book, thinking maybe some of it was a little too over-the-top in certain areas, that it might offend or scare people off. But it’s about something that’s close to my heart (the plight of animals), and I’d feel as if I were betraying them if I didn’t tell the truth. You’ve encouraged me to be true to myself and my purpose. Thanks! I needed that.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 12:06am

      Paige
      We always know intuitively when we’re right. Stick with it.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:52pm

    I wrote my book, Just Another Sunday, in my own voice right from the get-go. The passion I had during the writing process left no room for compromising my story, my ideas, the messages I wanted to convey, and my own personal writing style. As Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.”

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 12:02am

      Elizabeth
      Frank Sinatra… ‘My Way’. Definitely #1 choice if we ever need theme music for ‘Writer’s Voice’.
      http://youtu.be/6E2hYDIFDIU
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:54pm

    I found this post (and the blog comments) super engaging and enlightening as a whole.
    The quote from Jane Johnson especially got me thinking. She says:
    “… who wants a second-rate copy of someone else’s idea? Write something unique to you and it will stand out from the crowd.”
    This made me think of something that Lewis expressed to Tolkien in a letter: “If they won’t write the kinds of books we want to read, we shall have to write them ourselves.”
    I think these words by C.S. Lewis to J.R.R. Tolkien made a huge dent on my consciousness when I first heard them. They have become like a guidepost or leading motivation for me in my own writing, namely, to write the “kinds of books [I] want to read.”
    Interesting that Tolkien and Lewis were not big fans of contemporary trends in literature. This is something that I think we as authors should remember– that we need not be influenced by all the short lived trends in literature. We should remain original, true to ourselves, while always learning, of course, from the works of great writers.

    • agmoye says:
      November 20, 2013 at 6:11pm

      I had a friend of mine say slow down, don’t keep cranking out your books. I Replied. “I just can’t stop. When a story pops in my regardless of the subject, I have to write something down on my computer. I may not finish it before another comes into my head but at least the bare bones is ready to be finished. I find myself most of the time working on two books at once.
      As a youngster, I read Ray Bradbury amung a host of other SiFi authors at the time. Even though I might write in other genre, I keep coming back to SiFi, my first love. A.G. Moye

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        November 21, 2013 at 12:37am

        AG. M.
        Never slow down. Although… a little organisation can help.
        ~ Jonathan

  • Grace Tee says:
    November 20, 2013 at 6:22pm

    How timely thanks Jonathan i was sitting down really contemplating on the ways to penetrate the market, being of an African descent. My first book which is very dear to me Pursuit of the good life a hearts and minds saga had average 4.5 reviews on amazon, i self published and still feel that i have not found my niche market.

    Your article has given me the impetus to forge on, i believe i have it in me to make a difference through my writings. Its the silence and seemigly content attitudes to the cruel inflictions by despots in developing countries and the movies shown do not depict or reveal the motives and underlying factors.
    My next book puts me in the shoes of a despot president and go through his psych, emotions and how they view the status quo. The suffering of women and children. Usually their views are myopic shaped by a tribal, partisan and a greed mindset.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 12:09am

      Grace
      Sounds like you’re on a mission. “You ‘gotta do it!” Ray Bradbury
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 6:34pm

    Since reading your post earlier today I have spent a great day writing freely. First day for a long time that I haven’t held back…A big thank you. :o)
    Maureen.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 12:41am

      Maureen
      Some more ‘freedom’ for you. Great video on creativity by John Cleese.
      http://youtu.be/ijtQP9nwrQA
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 6:37pm

    One is always waiting for the hammer of accuracy to fall once more, and this time it’s Ray Bradbury, who says it all in thirty seconds. We had a very succesful author here in Amsterdam who said you can’t become a writer; in his opinion you are a writer or you are not. It is, in short, not a question. That makes writing fairly easy: it has to be an autonomous process, and there is no interference from deadlines and budgets. It’s also a necessity in a broader sense, as Nietzsche said: “We have art so that we may not perish by the truth.” There’s the risk of taking oneself too serious of course, but that’s something that can be dealt with.
    I also like the Tolkien/Lewis quote among the comments; it’s good to feel that way and it’s an inspiring addition to the topic. “Let’s do it ourselves, let’s tell them a story in a way that’s unique, in a way it hasn’t been done before.”
    So thanks for this inspiring post (great header painting too); and that goes for the many commenters too.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 12:20am

      MH V.
      Nietzsche: “We have art so that we may not perish by the truth.”
      Bradbury: “You must stay drunk on writing, so reality cannot destroy you.”
      Agree the header painting is a beauty. An artist at Deviant Art artist kindly agreed to let me use it.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Annette Mardis says:
    November 20, 2013 at 7:00pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit of your post, Jonathan. I’m tired of reading cookie-cutter plots and retreads of the same old, same old. But I find some of the “cutting-edge” stuff that critics rave about to be too “out there” for my taste. A prime example is the novel “Swamplandia.” It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, for cripe sakes. So here’s the challenge: convincing agents/publishers that our wonderfully inventive work is something they should help us share with the world. All we are saying, is give us a chance! (Sing that last line to the tune of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” for the full effect.)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:40pm

      Annette
      The real question to be answered is does the work exhibit magic in the actual writing, the ‘writer’s voice’. This is what counts. I never worry too much about the weirdness of the subject material / sub-genre.
      Jonathan

  • Phoenix says:
    November 20, 2013 at 7:26pm

    Ah, the unique product is a lofty goal to which we should indeed aspire. I’ve always held high regard for quality and originality that derivative work has never earned. Fan fiction remains a bizarre oddity to me. I’ll never know whether their writing is good or poor since I won’t read them. Conversely, I retain optimism enough to believe that my own writing will find its passionately receptive audience. I so love to share :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:31pm

      Phoenix
      Thing is, in the early days, it’s OK to copy by doing such things as writing fan fiction. But yes, eventually need to grow past it. (Although it paid off directly for E.L. James with 50 shades…’)
      See the Vimeo video EVERYTHING IS A REMIX, there’s link to it in my reply to Miranda’s comment. Here you are
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-key-to-growing-readership/#comment-21869
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 8:13pm

    Thanks, Jonathan, for another valuable post. It gives further weight and meaning to the explosion taking place in Indie publishing. Everyone needs objective criticism, but then it’s time to get your work, your voice, in readers’ hands. Let readers, not gatekeepers be the judge.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 9:25pm

      Barry
      This is certainly the ‘day of the author’. Gatekeepers begone!
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 8:48pm

    This is so interesting that I should receive this blog post today. I went through a 10 year therapeutic process of writing my memoir and when finished, asked my daughter to read it. She said “Mom, you have to rewrite it. It is written to the Christian and that is NOT the audience you want to reach. Your story is so bizarre and unbelievable that most Christians would reject it. You need to write it to a wider audience.” And so I did and could not believe the difference and the positive reviews. I had to step out of my comfort zone and go bare boned and as difficult as that was, it worked. The reason this post is so appropriate today is that I submitted my book for a review with a Christian organization and got an answer today. Basically what they said was that although they could not put it down due to the excitement and mystery, they felt it was not right for their audiences.

    And that is precisely why I wrote it the way I did — to give hope to the hopeless and help them to realize that no matter what happens, you can not only survive, but thrive.

    I am sure I would be selling a lot more books if I had soft sold it like so many other Christian authors. But, mine is a story of trauma on many levels with little help from the Christian community at large, even though I am a member of the ‘club.’

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    November 20, 2013 at 9:24pm

    Carol
    Bravery! “I had to step out of my comfort zone and go bare boned, and as difficult as that was, it worked…” That’s the spirit.
    ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 9:51pm

    This is a great article. There’s so much pressure (pressure may not be the right word, but…) to produce works in a style that emulates things that have already been successful.
    The truth is, discovering my unique voice has become a process. The irony is that things like Twitter and my website have become the vehicles for that journey. By testing my identity on social media, I’m slowly beginning to understand what readers and others find valuable and unique in the things that I write. I’m not sure there’s any other platform to experiment with such freedom and receive such concrete feedback.
    I feel like after almost two years of swimming in the digital stream, I’m starting to understand my own voice. Thanks for always bringing valuable and simplistic but effective insight to authors.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 12:24am

      Heidi
      “So much pressure to produce works in a style that emulates things that have already been successful.” ‘Pressure’ absolutely nails it. A central issue we all face.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:33pm

    I agree with you Jonathan; we have to follow our heart. The problem is that we, as writers, also have the moral responsibility to wake people up. My last book (mini ebook) is titled 9/11 Truth: Implications, and America find those implications terrifying (they are), so we don’t want to face them. I believe we think that if we turn a blind eye (something we have been doing for decades) the problem will go away. It won’t! Now, isn’t that terrifying.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 20, 2013 at 11:56pm

      Rio
      Writing ‘with a fire in your heart’ can apply to ALL subjects that fascinate you, including the material you’ve outlined. It’s easy to be confused about this, and to think that such deep writing is only for ideas that are flights of fancy.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 1:15am

    Having returned to my first finished manuscript and engaged in the millionth revision, I completely agree. There’s nothing like writing for the love of writing; all dreams of fame and fortune set aside for the sheer joy of writing words. I think readers pick up on that enthusiasm. Speaking of Ray, I felt that especially in Fahrenheit 451. You could feel the joy he put into writing that novel, which was a major influence on my own writing dreams. I think if a writer continues to develop his/her unique voice without worrying about what’s happening on the outside, there will be success at one point or another. He who love to write will only improve his writing, and in doing so will only increase his chances of a solid readership. Great article, thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 7:53am

      Bard
      You’ve nailed it with this: “…if a writer continues to develop his/her unique voice without worrying about what’s happening on the outside, there will be success at one point or another…”
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 2:58am

    As always, you’re hitting the nail on the head, Jonathan. Too often unique voice is squashed by fear.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 7:58am

      Charmaine
      True, and is most often it’s fear of being judged, by peers, public, publishers. But there are ways around this it as Colleen Hoover discovered.
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 23, 2013 at 9:18pm

        Thank you. I’m heading for Never-Never land!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 23, 2013 at 11:44pm

          Charmaine.
          Good to hear. Re ‘Never never’ land:
          Some years ago I came across a pivotal, life changing quote by Ray Bradbury. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Some writers align with this magic instantly. A few others take longer, and the remaining handful of incurable, candle-snuffers usually change careers and become accountants.
          ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 3:27am

    Thanks Jonathon… timely for me too. Struggling to find my voice writing a collective bio on 100 doctors in WW1. Military historian purists are very fussy and judgmental especially if a writer doesn’t have a military background (which I haven’t, so I’m even more nervous). But each man has a unique and interesting story. Where do I impose my voice in all that?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 8:08am

      Lina
      Whoa! This is no problem at all. Now tell me, you’re highly intrigued by this WW1 subject yes? It can’t just be the dry facts that matter, I can’t see that driving you. No, its the level of intrigue about these 100 people that got you going, and that’s the key. Let that intrigue grow to obsession, and it will be apparent through all the writing. Truly, that’s all you need for voice to appear. The potent, irreplaceable, beautiful, unique, fascinated you. Readers will sense this a mile off.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 6:29am

    Jonathan,
    I always love reading your posts. Thank you yet again for a subject I always need to be reminded of: be yourself.
    The real value of this reminder, for me, is that I have never been able to follow the crowd, do what I’m told is the “right thing”. Sometimes, I have to wonder…then you post this and I know I am on the right road, for me.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Aya

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 8:18am

      Aya
      Thank you!
      “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”
      Allen Ginsberg
      “Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.”
      Lady Gaga
      “If you have the guts to be yourself…other people’ll pay your price.
      John Updike
      ~ Jonathan

  • Rena says:
    November 21, 2013 at 6:46am

    I needed to hear this, just the push I needed….although I didn’t realize until I read this post. Thank you!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 8:00am

      Rena.
      “Thoughts From The Girl Who Doesn’t Give Up.” Yes?
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 8:20am

    Thanks, Jonathan. I have always said that ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve’ and I have put my heart and soul into my writing (or so I would like to think!) Writing is my passion, my long-awaited calling, and as you so eloquently stated, ‘it was what I was put on this earth to do’. I just hope that my uniqueness shines through the ocean of… ahem, I will put this as nicely as I can… flotsam and jetsam that pounds against the reader’s shore (helped along, I might add, by my marketing and soon-to-be released blog – and thanks, I might add even more, to you, Jonathan for your wonderful help and advice).

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 9:01am

      Liam
      The literary ‘flotsam and jetsam’ to which you refer is the only real downside of the Amazon author revolution. It’s so easy to publish now that the number of books available is akin to the grains of sand on a beach. How to stand out? That’s what this blog is about. In particular, see the following post:
      7 Bestseller Book Marketing Strategies For Fiction Writers
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 21, 2013 at 10:52am

        Absolutely, Jonathan. And once again, thank you for your advice. I think that anyone who ignores what you say, or take it with the proverbial grain of salt, do so at their own risk. You are the expert in this, you have the credentials and the experience.
        I’m following everything you say to the letter, trying my hardest to apply it all, including and struggling my way through the ‘attractive, attention-grabbing book description’ (boy, oh boy is that hard… writing my series is a walk in the park compared to that!)
        But, I feel confident that eventually the cream will rise to the top. No arrogance there, just confidence (another thing that doesn’t come easily… at least not for me!)

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 27, 2013 at 9:01am

          Liam
          The Book Marketing landscape can come as a shock when starting out – it’s almost an alien vista. But you ‘get it’ after a while once you figure out it’s all about community and connections, instead of being randomly pushy.
          ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 4:17pm

    What’s especially galling is how so many uncreative people can be especially genius-like when it comes to stifling the creativity of others. The market for conformity is literally bursting at the seems.

    So I’m with Emerson on this one (apart from the hair — that is one crap hairdo), and my own take on this is “don’t waste your life climbing someone else’s mountain”.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 9:42pm

      Whirlochre
      Firstly, J.M. Barry referred to people who stifle creativity as ‘Candle Snuffers’. Secondly, leave poor Emerson’s hair alone Sir, he was doing his best in a world full of Bay Rum Barbers.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 6:10pm

    Great article, Jonathan! It’s important to remember there is no right or wrong way to your writing style.

    Write, read, write, read, and even more writing. :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 9:55pm

      Elke
      I see that your first book was titled ‘For Love Of Jazz.’ OK, this gentle flowing piece, ‘Eldorado Blues’ by Alan Marchand is for you is for you. Sorry it’s just a ‘preview’. I have the original.
      Link: ELDORADO BLUES
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 21, 2013 at 8:59pm

    Dear Jonathan, sadly Jane Johnson is a hypocrite as the very last concern of the big publishers is searing originality – because it represents risk – while all modern corporates are risk-averse. I can confirm the number of rejection letters I had in the days when I tried conventional publishing, all of which allowed the first book ‘to be very well written’ but said, with varying equivocation, ‘it doesn’t fit the formula’.

    Harry Potter is hardly original in the terms with which The Golden Path Quintet deals yet look how long it took JKR to get there. Big names are only interested in what already sells, to which they add the heaps of the formulaic stuff they chuck on the shelves to keep production up.

    There is another killer too – originality itself doesn’t sell as the proportion of the populace who are prepared to give adequate thought to originality’s truths is even more minute than it was a hundred years ago, when the proportion of educated able to assimilate true originality was far higher – my 1,000 book Victorian library makes that very clear indeed as the point I am making now was being made then.

    I find myself in reasonably educated company extending some of the core ideas of The Golden Path to be met with bland incomprehension – while I have long ceased to try with the teachers in my wife’s Secondary School as no single one of those strands has any echo with their totally televisual world – yet every one of those strands is a standard concern of The Human Condition, for I write with two of Johnson’s injunctions in front of me;

    ‘Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of a general nature’.; and;
    ‘He must write as the interpreter of nature, and the legislator of mankind, and consider himself as presiding over the thoughts and manners of future generations, as being superior to time and place’

    It is a commonplace those who write for ‘tomorrow’ are considered mad ‘today’ – yet;

    All I have done is what our educated forefathers used to do – write magnificent polemics against ‘the current state of things’ except uniquely I have wrapped mine into a gorgeous collection of Romances in the proper sense of ‘The Impossible Made Good’ to carry the reader along in a torrent of ‘Story’ and fun while saying to himself ‘ too bloody right boss’ as I set about recreating ‘tomorrow’ in a finer guise BUT I am asking the reader to think.

    I sit in the rare position of having run my own manufacturing engineering company for 40 years while leading a number of successful pro-bono campaigns ‘slaying goats’ to build new horizons – so I’ve been there – while I have written most of my working life which brings the unique view which is The Golden Paths hallmark – which is the very last thing any publisher actually wants, despite their protestations.

    I write because I am passionate about the mess The Western Ethic finds itself in today while knowing I have a very powerful story to tell – as its ‘mending’ is The Golden Path’s prime concern. So far there are two books of the five driven by characters far outside conventions mould (yet in each of which are us ourselves) – but publishers don’t want ‘far outside convention’s mould because they believe convention, with its cardboard characters, is what the public wants so stack it on the shelves by the ton.

    I am intensely, powerfully, uniquely me so have powerful ideas enunciated by powerful people – which frightens publishers – read the ‘speils’ on the back of novels today to know this.

    Jonathan I will place you solid money the aforementioned, which outlines the ‘idiom’ of The Golden Path Quintet – a Romance wrapped round probably the widest philosophical canter in recent times undertaken by characters who ‘fall in love’, think profoundly yet with outrageous humour – will meet with yawning disbelief from everyone who reads your blog for too far outside convention’s understandings. Publishers want ‘unique’ new voices? – balls. The first act of any herd is to condemn unique. Yet , yet My Readers Favourite’s Reviewer ‘loved’ the first book to 5* Yours sincerely ‘Margaret Montrose’.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2013 at 9:36pm

      Margaret
      Hypocrisy is the very last thing of which Jane could be accused! Always means what she says, does what she says.
      I think you’ve mistakenly thought she is referring to book genre or message, when she is in fact referring to quality of writingwhatever the genre or message.
      Even if she did pick a book in a perennially popular genre, there’s no question that the writer’s ‘voice’ would need to have the ‘searing originality’ to which you refer for the book to be accepted.
      The more relevant issue is that the traditional publisher is being pushed out of any form of socially responsible position (such as supporting high level literature) because their profits are being squeezed by Amazon.
      Amazon is far more suitable target for your jibe.
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 23, 2013 at 8:54pm

        Indeed Jonathan but it is my complaint that the quality of writing I have come across is so appalling as often to be unreadable. Syntactically and grammarially simply wrong so the result is a complete lack of euphony nor any causal flow – because so many of the authors are functionally illiterate. Alas Amazon – like monster dictators – are entirely unconcerned with quality of writing, neither, sadly, is the average reader who has never been subject to any so raging at them would be pissing-in-the-wind. This is the plaint Johnson, Addison and Steele made in the early 18th Century. The High point for English prose was Elizabethan, late 18thC then the mid 19th C. It is a government statistic here that 82% of the working population is functionally illiterate – read even our good press to know this. I may be mad to ‘bust a gut’ to bring my prose up to the highest level by unremitting work, but I have the exemplars in my library. It’s a bloody good story too! Margaret Montrose.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 23, 2013 at 11:15pm

          Margaret
          Agree re quality … as would Jane Johnson. I do hope your story sees more light shine upon it.
          ~ Jonathan

  • Deb Fisher says:
    November 22, 2013 at 10:49pm

    This post made my day Jonathan.
    I have been dispirited in recent months because of isolation, and wondering if I’m doing the right writing when I see all the buzz around hot genres like ‘Vampires’ and ‘Dystopian’ fiction like ‘Zombies’. Mine is just a sweet romance for teens. (With a small ‘r’)
    But now I get that it’s not about genre. Instead it’s all about the original me showing up in my writing just as Jane Johnson says, why be a second rate copy? The Shakespeare quote really clinched it for me ‘The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, this insubstantial pageant faded’. It glows with warmth from deep inside. I’m back onto my work with joy. It’s not easy, but I’m motivated all over again. Thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 22, 2013 at 11:05pm

      Deb
      Good to hear and true. So many think the right genre is the big secret. Nope. It’s all about the originality you bring to it, and that has to come from your unique imagination and emotions. Having said that, there’s no question that everyone stands on the shoulders of those who came before.
      “All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”
      ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
      “Only those with no memory insist on their originality.”
      ― Coco Chanel
      Nevertheless, your own ‘remix’ (especially in a Romance novel) will have a uniqueness that’ll become a personal brand readers simply cannot get from anyone other than you.
      ~Jonathan
      PS. Take time to watch this sensational video: ‘Everything is a remix’.

  • Indu M says:
    November 23, 2013 at 4:07am

    Inspiring. Thank you, Jonathan, for this wholesome nourishment for the writer’s soul.

  • November 23, 2013 at 1:27pm

    This is so true. One of my most prized possessions is a a hand typed post card from Isaac Asimov telling me the value of writing what you’re passionate about. Thirty years later, it still inspires me.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 23, 2013 at 11:25pm

      William
      A letter from Asimov? Envy overflowing here.
      I hate to admit this, but I committed one of the literary crimes of the century in the 1980s. Earlier in the 1970s I had a lovely letter from Christopher Robin Milne. (Yes the real Christopher Robin.) It was in reply to one I wrote to him about his book ‘The Enchanted Places’, about life with his father AA Milne. But a decade later while I was moving house, somehow it disappeared. I must have mistakenly thrown it out with old paperwork marked “No Longer Required.”
      ~Jonathan

  • November 23, 2013 at 3:32pm
    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 23, 2013 at 11:37pm

      Massimo
      Went over and read your highly insightful blog post. In fact I’ll quote from it: “… there’s a story inside me that kicks and pushes to be written. But having that story inside you doesn’t make you a writer. How you tell that story does… “
      Perfect.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Ykozuch says:
    November 23, 2013 at 6:41pm

    I read this and found that it’s something my friends tells me that I do naturally. She says I write from the heart. It’s not because I want or need to make money from this book it’s not that some one is telling me to do it, it’s just me writing because I love to. Is there a market for my story, I know there isn’t, but I also know that my story is a timeless classic so I will create a market for it but first I have to write it, and it is the writing that I love.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 23, 2013 at 11:28pm

      Ykozuch
      There will always be market for your unique voice. Being discovered is the hard part, and is the purpose of this blog, to teach how to publicize your work.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 23, 2013 at 8:20pm

    Hi Jonathan:

    What a great article! I feel like you’ve been reading my mind lately since this just came in my email. I’ve always ‘walked to the beat of a different drummer.’ I’ve also been called ‘quirky’ by a few. In fact, I find quirky people interesting and felt that a compliment at the time.

    I’m writing a crime fiction series (3-book-series)–my first in this genre. I definitely write with emotion because I address issues that have been part of my life over the years. My empathy for victims is all-consuming. I’ve been told I’m overly-empathic at times for someone who has been through so much turmoil in the past. Yet, that is exactly what made me who I am today.

    However, it came to my attention recently that many of the books I read that are crime fiction mystery/thrillers write most of the book about the police and other law enforcement and how they do their job to get the killers. Whereas my book begins with the Protagonist (a woman, a victim) who suffers greatly to hide that part of her life so her family doesn’t get killed. Law enforcement doesn’t come into play until the end of the first book. The book is really about the protagonist and her villain and her family. The second book will be more about law enforcement issues as well.

    I struggled with this for awhile now and almost changed my storyline because of noticing the ‘norm’ for crime writing. But decided to stay with what was coming from inside me and was part of me. You, dear Jonathan, have confirmed for me with this article that I am doing the right thing. Whether I’m a good writer or bad will be determined down the road, but for now I am using ‘my voice.’ Thanks so much!

    Best, Gippy

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 23, 2013 at 11:34pm

      Gippy
      The covert side of your story sounds intriguing indeed – as in how it is partially driving the relationships between the various characters.
      Re advice about ‘norms’: Sometimes the ‘market’ IS right, because story generally appeals to readers if certain proven aspects are present. This is not being formulaic, but playing to human nature, which never changes.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 23, 2013 at 8:22pm

    Sorry, changed my website address to my blog. Thanks, Gippy.

  • November 24, 2013 at 12:51am

    Hello Jonathan,

    Your post really hit home with me. I totally agree that when an author writes with their writer voice it will make a big difference.
    I also enjoyed reading the quotes. Thank you for sharing your blog with me. I shared with others.

    Marvela

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 27, 2013 at 8:51am

      Marvela
      Sharing appreciated thank you.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 25, 2013 at 1:29pm

    Another great article. Thank you for sharing. :) Cassandra Black

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 27, 2013 at 8:54am

      Cassandra.
      All the best with your writing. Keep us posted re progress.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 25, 2013 at 9:39pm

    Jonathan,

    I have to compliment you on your ability to encourage other writers in such a positive and winsome manner. Your articles are helpful, but it’s your personal encouragement and humble attitude that I find truly admirable.

    Thank you for using your unique “voice” in such a uplifting way!

    Dawn Morris

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 27, 2013 at 8:49am

      Dawn
      ‘Winsome’… that beats an Oscar any day.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 26, 2013 at 4:53pm

    Jonathan,
    Very COOL. I do agree – one writes because THEY MUST. We each have to honor OUR OWN VOICE. I think it’s important to write the book, the story, the stage play, the script we want to read.
    THANKS!
    Cheers,
    Kristina

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 27, 2013 at 8:48am

      Kristina
      “I realized that at last I wasn’t writing to the left of me, or to the right, I was writing for me…” Ray Bradbury’s breakthrough moment when he wrote ‘The Lake.’
      ~Jonathan

  • Fran says:
    November 26, 2013 at 5:45pm

    Well timed post for me Jonathan. I started a Creative Writing MA and have chosen to do one of my assignments about The Writer’s Voice! My debut novel comes out in March which means my publisher enjoyed my voice. I feel as though I get better each time I write something I believe in. If it’s not right then you’ll know. Any new writers have just got to keep at it until they can be ‘heard’.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 27, 2013 at 8:46am

      Good timing Fran!
      ~ Jonathan

  • Jill says:
    November 27, 2013 at 1:45pm

    Thanks for this article Jon. I truly believe that writers only write readable stories if they’re in love with writing. To stay in touch with the muse is a love thing that leads directly to expressing you deep authentic voice on the page. Hooray for the oddity of individuality! It’s taken me ten years of studying the craft to come to this understanding by the way. J x

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 27, 2013 at 9:21pm

      Jill
      “… Hooray for the oddity of individuality!..” Couldn’t have put it better. And with regard to “It’s taken me ten years of studying the craft to come to this understanding..” More than half the issue is trusting this understanding.
      ~ Jonathan

  • December 29, 2013 at 12:38pm

    Thanks for this inspiring post. I’m still working out what my unique voice is in my writing, but I was pleasantly surprised when I started writing for middle grade instead of teens that I had a sense of humour! My teen novel was so angst-ridden that it was quite boring and my lead character was quite unlikeable. I might go back to it down the road when I’m more experienced and see if I can rewrite it or if it’s even worth bothering. I have so many other ideas, it wouldn’t be a great loss if I tossed that one!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 30, 2013 at 12:58pm

      A. Colleen
      This post is all about creativity, passion and truth so yes, I was deeply inspired to write it. If it has inspired you too, then that makes my day because I’ve helped to release another flow of magic into the world.
      ~ Jonathan

  • January 4, 2014 at 6:47pm

    Thank you. I love it. I guess I do have an inner voice. :-)

  • March 16, 2014 at 3:55am

    Great post Jonathan. The BEST thing about writing is freeing the ‘real’ you. I spent years trying to blunt the sharp edges of my western suburbs upbringing – even worked for a man who told me to lie about where I lived (and yes, that has ended up in one of my books!). It was only when I decided to face my fear and embrace who I really was that a unique voice came through. BTW there are still plenty of people who want to edit that off the page. I’ve stopped showing them my pages ;) Time and readership will decide who is right. R :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 16, 2014 at 11:21am

      Read your blog bio. Like that get up and go spirit Rowena.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 24, 2014 at 11:20pm

    You are such a breath of fresh air :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 25, 2014 at 2:03am

      Tally
      Thank you. Wish I could do posts more frequently here, but my own creative project consumes time in truckloads.
      ~ Jonathan