Defining your Voice in Writing

Defining Your Writing Voice

We all hear it, time and time again, from agents and editors and publishers… we want VOICE! But what exactly does that mean? And how can we start to define our own Voice in our writing.

Over the last year I’ve started receiving some great feedback from Editors and Agents, great Voice, wonderful writing style. And yet, I’ve had no full manuscript requests. So I wanted to dig deeper into what wasn’t working in my manuscripts. It turns out, I’d developed the wrong kind of Voice.

Don’t get me wrong, the industry wants a writers voice and their style to come through, but what they also want, also NEED… is our characters Voice. Both the POV of the character (their voice), and the writers (Our own voice), need to blend together to create a wonderful voice that draws the reader in.

If your struggling with the concept, or want to improve your own writing, I strongly recommend reading – Voice. The secret power of writing by James Scott Bell. In his bite sized book, he sets writing exercises that help hone and develop Voice. He gives examples of Voice in literature to help the reader understand the many different aspects of voice and how we can cultivate a different style of voice for different genres.

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Perhaps it’s easier to develop a characters voice in first person POV, over second person POV, because the writer is filtering everything through the characters perspective. And to make matters more confusing, some novels are written in an omniscient narrator style, where the writers voice carries the story.

The main points that I’ve learnt is when describing a setting, do it through the characters eyes, taking into account their mood, their background, their current goals and their character wounds. I’d been describing them through my POV. What I wanted to convey was a stunning visual world full of hidden emotion. Some characters don’t care what the sunset looks like, or what dress so-and-so is wearing. Oops!

I’ve tried to write my second novel Mischief and Mayhem in deep third person POV, unfortunately, to much of my own voice carries the story. So it’s time for a complete rewrite. I’m on the lookout for new critique partners who understand Close narrator – Third Person POV, and loves fantasy-romance. If you’d like to work with me, please comment below.

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Do you have any tips on how to develop your character voice? If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Don’t be shy, we’re all here to learn and develop our craft.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Writing (or not writing) During A Pandemic

Being creative during a pandemic can be a struggle. Not only is the world full of fear, but it’s also loaded with stress. If you can’t write, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re living in uncertain times, making sure you take care of yourself and your family is the main priority. But to ease the burden, here’s a lighthearted post about how I’m dealing with the situation.

Keep active.

This translates to hoovering in my pajamas, washing the dishes while staring out of the window and daydreaming. I like to let the lemon-fresh soapy suds lull me into a peaceful bliss while I conjure up new plots.

Keeping the kids busy.

Signed up to Disney+ so we can all watch our favorite films. I’m taking advantage of being emotionally carried away by Marvel magic. Sigh! Chris Pratt. Besides, endless games of monopoly and Uno are getting old fast. It’s like an extended Christmas holiday with less booze.

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Keep expectations realistic

I now understand that two ‘family sized bars of chocolate’ are supposed to last a full week. Apparently, stocking up on treats does not count as essential shopping. BUT, when I next make the perilous ‘social distancing’ trip around the supermarket – I’ll buy more chocolate (and maybe booze).

It seems everyone else has gone baking mad, meaning bags of flour, paracetamol and loo roll has suddenly become rarer than gold dust (who would have guessed). Thankfully, I can’t bake!

Take some ME time.

This means hiding in the bathroom; to either have an emotional break down, or to read a chapter (or three) in peace. Suddenly, I understand why my husband takes so long on the loo. Sneaky!

Draw strength from the situation

Sometimes we need to pull on our inner reserves, knowing that we will get through this madness. A good tip is to call upon your Spirit Animal. I have called upon a hamster: I like to eat, hibernate, gaze at the world side and then do as little house keeping as possible.

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Humor can be a great way to cope with difficult situations. So why not get creative and share your spirit animal with me. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Powerful Influences in Writing.

We explore the world around us through things we hear, see and experience. So I guess it’s natural to expect the current crisis to slip into our writing. Should we sensor our words to protect other peoples feelings? Should we avoid subjects, because they might be deemed inappropriate?

As writers we’re told to research, to write what we know, to have empathy for our fellow humans. This is how we learn to write from their perspective. With the Coronavirus pandemic on the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s not surprising it slipped into my latest WIP.

I think in times of crisis it’s the artists responsibility to dig a little deeper.

~ Bruce Pavitt.

Yesterday, I did a hard cull of all traces of the conspiracy theory I’d just invented. It was too close to the bone, and too horrifying to write. I had palpitations thinking about the potential persecution I’d face.

I’m a strong believer that we don’t need anymore fuel added to the fear-fire. And yet, I’m aware of the benefits to writing about what scares you. The unknown, the strange, the grotesque. How else are we suppose to make sense of the things that form our day-to-day world?

There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there – just get to work and make something.

~ Lisa Golightly

In this time of crisis, when everyone is maintaining a calm, sensible approach. I wonder how many writers are releasing some of that pent up anxiety and terror onto paper?

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Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share? Are you writing about the current crisis? Has something similar slipped into your work? Please share your experience, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Writing character flaws

The reason why character flaws, or big problems, are so important, is because this is what our character is going to overcome. To master, to change, to learn to strengthen or resolve. This flaw will be planted right from the beginning, showing the character in their normal setting, struggling with something that has a negative impact on their life. By the end of the story, we will see the character transformed, back in their normal world, but living a little more imperfectly.

Every story requires a specific character to fulfill the story arc. A character’s arc is a much an integral part of the story as the plot. They should compliment each other through the specific conflicts that will appear because of the characters flaws.

The point of a story isn’t to just save the world, or to get the girl/ boy. It’s to see and feel the world through your characters POV. Show the reader what’s different now that your character has set out to achieve everything they wanted. Whether they achieve their goal, or not, is not important. Overcoming a flaw and getting something they needed is.

Needs are internal goals, things that can transform a character: Redemption, forgiveness, love, acceptance, fear, survival, trust, responsibility, faith or selfishness.

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As writers, we understand the necessity of a great character arc. To create goals, wants and needs that unravel through the story. Wrong plot or wrong character, and the story is, at best, not going to achieve its full potential. Or, at worst, it’s going to fail.

In Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, Diana wants to prove her worth to the Amazons. Diana knows none of the other Amazons respect her as an equal and this plagues her thoughts. Driving her to enter the mortal lands to save the planet from war, intent on proving to her fellow Amazons that she was worthy of living amongst them.

In Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Agnieszka loves her family, friends and her village. She’s distraught when she’s chosen by the Dragon to spend ten years in his castle. Agnieszka’s goal is to return home, she wants to escape, but she needs to transform into the woman who helps her loved ones escape the curse of the Woods.

Both Diana and Agnieszka are driven to protect their loved ones and to return home. However, their developed characters, filled with strengths, weaknesses, and flaws, would have resulted in very different arcs. Thus changing the whole plot.

I imagine if Diana had been chosen by the Dragon, she would have fought her way out of the castle early on, maybe even incapacitating the Dragon. She would have fulfilled her goal of returning home, , but the corrupt Woods would have devoured her beloved village.

I imagine if Agnieszka had lived with the Amazons, she would never had been called to take action in the first inciting indecent. She would have happily stayed on course, and the story would’ve ended before it even started.

Picking the right character, or characters, if you’re writing multiple POVs, is essential to the development of the story. But don’t worry Pansters, we can always evolve are characters, and/ or story during the editing phase: In fact, I often do.

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How do you define your character flaws, or the big problems they’ll face to bring about transformation? Are you an avid plotter, developing your characters before they appear on the page? Or are you a little like me, developing the problems as they arise, and then backtracking during the editing phase so that everything aligns? Share your writing process with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Figurative Language – Writing Tips

Ways to use language in literature.

There are many ways in which we can convey meaning within our writing, figurative language uses words to deviate from their literal interpretation to achieve either a powerful effect, or a subtle nuanced one. Writers use techniques such as metaphors to create powerful imagery with in their settings, adding depth and substance, whilst playing with the sound and flow of the words.

What’s the most common method of figurative language you use in your writing? And what would you like to explore more of? Share your preferred writing style with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

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Why Writers Need Validation to Grow

We all crave validation. We all desire acknowledgement and acceptance. It is one of our fundamental needs as a human. Despite this yearning, I’ve battled with this concept. In a modern society, we’re led to believe that we’re failing unless we push aside these impulses and set to the hard work of getting to know ourselves, of loving ourselves and not needing validation from outside sources.

I’m crying ‘bullshit’ to the notion, we don’t need validation. Yes we do! We’re hard wired for it, in fact, it’s how we learn and grow. But sometimes we get caught up in our reasons for needing it.

In this post, I’ll be explaining the subtle difference between: Excepting who you are; putting yourself out there, battling rejection and criticism to obtain validation of something you’ve worked hard for. Over: Not appreciating your own worth; grappling for validation to prove you exist.

I want to point out that neither of these ways are wrong; if anything, it strengthens my argument that validation is vital to us. Because we, as conscious beings, will often go to great lengths to achieve those fundamental needs.

Dream Big and Let Nothing Hold You Back
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Lets talk about this subject as if we were exploring our story’s themes: Forgiveness, Revenge, Love, Fear, Redemption, Survival or Acceptance. There are many more, but in my second novel, Tali a nymph flees home and bargains her freedom, all in the bid to gain validation from an external source. She wants acceptance.

Taking the theme of Acceptance, I then developed my character, Tali, by asking questions. Why would she sell her soul to gain validation? Why can’t she love herself and follow her own path? How will she discover her own path? And who will validate her experiences to help guide her on her way?

Did you notice a change in those questions? The last two help get a growth mindset. Tali starts the story by giving all of her power away. She’s pleasing other people to satisfy their needs, gleaning what little attention she can get. Tali’s character arc takes her on a journey: She begins to understand her own self worth. She conquers her demons, regains her freedom and starts living her life to the fullest. Yet she still craves that validation, now she gets it from her friends.

Love Heart Hope Fantasy romance writer author Lorraine Ambers

I’ve parodied that example to us as writers: We work tirelessly, often alone, hanging onto the hope that we may one day get a glimmer of attention from an agent, a publisher, or a reader. This can sometimes feel overwhelming, where we feel desperate to sell our soul, I mean our book, to anyone that shows it any attention. Stop. Take a deep breath.

We need to know our own self worth; not every agent or publisher is right for us. Don’t forget we’re still on our journey. Take the time to improve, learn, grow and try again. Get validation from beta readers, critique partners, or a writing group. And fear not, I’m sure there is still plenty of validation to come.

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How do you get validation as a writer? Do you think it’s important? Share your comments, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Exploring Story Structures

I had a great question from a fellow blogger, asking for clarity on the different types of story structures. So I did a little research, and guess what… while there are slight differences, ultimately the three, four, and yes I found a five act story structure are all similar.

They all follow the same patterns, and they all fall into three sections: Protasis, Epitasis and Catastrophe. Don’t let those the phases intimidate you.

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Here’s the basics, I’ll let you decide for yourself:

Three Act Story Structure:

  • Opportunity – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • Point of no return – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding, learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces. The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Climax – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Four Act Story Structure:

  • The set up – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • The response – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance, failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • The attack – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • The resolution – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Five Act Story Structure:

  • Exposition – Start in the ordinary world, reveal hero’s goals.
  • Rising Action – Hero is called to action which introduces the stakes. The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • Climax – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Falling Action – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force.
  • Denouement – We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

Of course there are different ways to structure a novel that don’t follow the Protasis Epitasis, Catastrophe arc. Check out Four Way to Structure Your Novel where I explore other ways to structure your novel. 

A great resource for structuring your novel is: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing That You’ll Ever Need I highly recommend this book.

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What’s your favourite story structure? And do you agree, or disagree with my analysis of the three, four and five acts. Share your opinions with me, we can learn new things by sharing information. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Novel Writing – The Three Act Story Structure

A quick reference Infographic for all writers, whether you’re a plotter or planster, to help guide you through your hero’s journey. Take a look at the Three Act Structure and see if it suits your story.

There are other methods, which I’ve covered them in another post: Four Ways To Structure A Novel. If you want to know more, check it out.


I hope you enjoyed this fun glance at structuring novels. The options are endless, let your imagination run free and don’t give your hero an easy time. 😉

If you’re interested in further ideas, check out: Six Ways To End Your Story. 

Happy Writing.
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Do you use the Three Act Structure? Or do you have prefer another method? Please share your writing style, know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Overcome self-doubt as a Writer

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an artist is something all writers struggle with. Sometimes it’s fleeting like a summer breeze, other times, it lingers like a winter  frost. So how do we navigate the storm and overcome self-doubt?

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We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear. One of my favourite quotes is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. 

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying. I cling to the hope that tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

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For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past, I’ve buried myself in a double quilt, hidden in Netflix series whilst gorging on chocolate: The ultimate self-pity, self-sabotage, procrastination. If you catch yourself in this place, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you fear the most? Failure? Ridicule? Or is it success and living in your own power?
  • What’s Holding you back? Is it a lack of knowledge, practice, or feedback? And how can you change that?
  • What would you do differently if you believed in myself? 

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“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up characters, learn our trade, and most importantly, let your joy and passion lead you. Forget the outside world, the setbacks, the criticism and write

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Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of Complex PTSD, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruelest one of all. I now know, self-care and self-love are important for me to be able to create. Occasionally, I need to step back from a project and recharge my creativity. I no longer allow guilt to weigh me down, it’s all part of the process. Me time, strengthens my writing. 

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

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What helps you navigate the choppy waters of self-doubt? Please share your experiences to help other writers, and to help me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Blogging, Social Media and Marketing.

Welcome, my wonderful readers, follower bloggers and writers. How we use social media is changing, how we market ourselves and our books is changing. In an industry that’s fast moving and constantly evolving it’s easy to get stuck. What used to work no longer brings results. In this post, I’ll share what works.

I’m back after taking a short hiatus from most of social media while me and my husband moved business premises. Our welding and fabrication unit is now located in the best of rural Wales, surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s been a yearlong project and we’re both relieved and grateful to finally be set up and running. Phew.

I’ve had plenty of time while decorating to consider my approach to being a blogger and a writer. Media like Facebook has become a place that holds little engagement for me, whereas, Instagram and Twitter has become an interactive, positive place. But as the algorithms get updated, we must get savvy too. I love to watch YouTube clips to get the lowdown on what’s new and how to implement them.

Thankfully, my community of writers and bloggers has always been a supportive, caring place. The rules for blogging have remained the same; write great content, use amazing images, and most importantly – reach out to your fellow bloggers by reading their posts and commenting. Easy peezy.

If you’re considering becoming a blogger, know that you’re in good company. Having a website, a place where you can be authentic and creative, is a fantastic way to develop your brand and become established. Any content that you create on WordPress can be shared to a wide range of your social media accounts, making it a smart approach to marketing.

Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Finally, a step that I’m about to embark upon, is to learn how to market books. In the last three years that I’ve been blogging, I haven’t had to consider this yet, because I’m still in the query trenches with my manuscript. But one day, hopefully soon, I’ll have a published novel ready to market. And starting to implement a marketing strategy at that point will be too late. So fellow writers who are in the same boat as me, drafting, editing and querying, lets test out the waters and read posts, books and take marketing workshops so that we’re ready to go.

How do you cope with the ever changing demands of marketing? Please share your experience, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.