Medical & Scientific WritingScientific Writing Courses

How to Write a Book – Part 5

Your Voice

Remembering that the reader is the protagonist venturing off into unknown territory, you may want to begin your book with an attention grabbing narrative to hook your reader. Here are some tips that celebrated authors use: The first thing you have to remember is to take yourself out of the way. It is not about you but about your reader. Your job is to tempt the reader to get involved to a point of losing him or herself. Encourage your reader to see the story, first through your eyes and then through his or her own.

Stay away from using passive voice statements. Own your beliefs. Say “I think…” Don’t use vague phrases such as “One would think…” Connect with the reader.

You can talk directly to your reader, as in “If you need to, refer to your handbook…” or “Get yourself a guitar…” Go on the voyage with your reader. Don’t send them out alone. Instead of dictating to them, “I’ll teach you…” go with them. “We are going to learn…” or “As we have seen…”

It is okay to use the imperative voice to get the reader to trust you as the authority. “Turn to channel 36.” Once you get the hang of it, you can share the trip and still be the authority. “We will begin on page one”, “Let’s put our gloves on”, and so on. Similarly, you tell the reader what to do. “Go to page 9 …” and “…grab the wrench”. Your skills as a wordsmith are necessary here. The book has to be engrossing and remain readable while you finesse the reader with pronouns. Subtle humor infused with technical knowledge and a snippet of trivia will keep the pages turning. All of this is based on the fact that you are the voice of your book. It has to be your authentic voice. This is the greatest challenge a writer faces.

How do I find my voice?

The fastest way to your voice is to write. Sit down with no interruptions and start writing. Select a part of the book that feels familiar and easy, and just write. Let the words come naturally. Don’t edit. Don’t correct. Just write. When you start to feel the flow, you will recognize your voice. You will notice a pattern and a similarity in the way words fit together. This is your voice. Congratulations.

When you have completed the above exercise to where you have found your voice, just save the file. Don’t read it. Don’t edit it. Just save it.

Now you are going to write your book. Go back to your book and find a place, any place to start. Let that flow you felt in the exercise keep coming. Let the words come through your fingers. Continue to feel the writer in you as the story comes alive on the page.

This time however, you are going to edit and read what you have written. Now you will use your critical eye of the reader. You have to be the reader and the writer together.

Now, for that chapter you wrote and saved. Delete it. It’s okay. You will write it again, but this time from the mind of a writer with a voice and not the novice looking for one. If you start every book with the knowledge that you will toss the first twenty-five pages, there is no fear about getting it right.

You know your book will come and then you will begin to write,from your voice.

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