Stephen King has this adage about voice, which goes something like: “open milk always takes on the flavour of whatever else is in the fridge.” I’m mangling that, but it gets the sense across. His example was that if he reads too much Harlan Ellison, he starts writing like Harlan Ellison, not least because Ellison is a strong flavour.

The trick, perhaps, is to work out what it is that you like so much about your favourite writers — pick apart their work, find out how they achieve their effects — and take the things that feel most comfortable to you, and the things that you think will help you say what you want to say. Because “voice” starts with deciding what you want to say in your fiction. The things you really want to talk about. What makes you angry? What things do you want to explain your love for? How do you see relationships working? How should the world be? Answer these questions for yourself — or write fiction in which you can discover these answers for yourself — using the tools that look useful from your favourite writers — and you should be on your way to finding your own voice.

Warren Ellis, this morning, on finding one’s voice as a writer.
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