How to Edit and Keep Your Voice Part One – Tips From Alvin and the Chipmunks

My kids just love this time of year. When adults sing silly songs about reindeer with red noses, snowmen that talk, sugar plums that dance, and chipmunks who sing as if they sucked on helium. Yes, it is a wonderful time of year!

This morning as we rolled out of bed, we turned on Christmas carols with Alvin and the Chipmunks. A bit reminiscent of those days when I was growing up and a bit delightful to my daughter who is missing four front teeth.

The coolest thing about Alvin and the Chipmunks is we know that nasally high-pitched tone from the very moment we hear it. They are unique. Their voices stand out among all the other carolers.

Writers have a unique voice as well. It is the sentence length, tone, word choice, style, and more. It is what makes your writing unique.

473597_70582603Try This Exercise: 

Open to the first page of the books of three of your favorite authors. Read the first line. Are they each unique? Definitely.

Read each out loud. Then read out loud the first line of your novel. Your voice is different, too. If it is still a bit undeveloped, don’t worry the more you write it will become more succinct.

If you are anything like me, the toughest part of voice is keeping it after you edit. Today and tomorrow I will take some time to talk about how to keep you voice while you edit. Tomorrow we will break it down into scene edits, but for today I’d like to focus on your voice throughout the whole manuscript.

Three Tips to Keeping Your Voice While You Edit Your Manuscript:

1. Recognize your Voice. Often your voice is easier to spot in your journaling or rough drafts because they are written without censure. Read through your work and listen for the flow of your writing.

2. Study your Voice. Write down things you notice about your voice such as sentence structure, length, variations. Tone of your writing(For example, gritty or flowery). Recognize vocabulary choices and flavor (humorous, dark, etc.).

3. Compare Voice When Editing. Once you have applied edits, go back and see if it sounds like your writing. If it doesn’t, then add that flavor back in. Remember that poor craft is not voice. It will take time to learn the difference between the two, so be patient with yourself.

If your writing voice was a Musician singing Christmas carols, who would you sound like?



About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

11 thoughts on “How to Edit and Keep Your Voice Part One – Tips From Alvin and the Chipmunks

  1. dtopliff says:

    What a great closing question. Maybe like Carol Burnett, but I’m not sure which Christmas Carol–more like singing her theme song.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Thanks, Delores! I just got your message today about getting my blog posts. I assure you, that you didn’t miss out. I actually took a few days off and went out of town. I am back now and things should get back on schedule. Thanks for being such a faithful blog follower!

  2. Voice is so hard for me. I’m going to turn the tables on you…who do YOU think I would sound like? lol

  3. I find your blog refreshing especially since I’m a new Nanoer. Thank you for shining a beacon through the tunnel as I try to extract a novel from the 50k words that currently look like typed gibberish.

  4. jeannemt says:

    What a GREAT question, Michelle! As for voices, I think my writing may resemble Jill Phillips in general, but perhaps specifically, Amy Grant’s early Christmas albums. 🙂

  5. Melissa Tagg says:

    Great post, Michelle. I loved Alvin and the Chipmunks growing up! (The new movies, not so much. But I guess I’m just loyal to the cartoon. Haha!) Um, if my voice were a Christmas carol…I have no idea, but I’m going to say Coldplay singing the Christmas song they came out with a few years ago…solely because I love them. Haha! My voice is kind of quirky, I think, and I can’t think of any quirky Christmas songs/singers… 🙂

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