The Romance Writers of America www.rwa.org/conference held their 2003 conference in New York City. Although this was before I started writing, some of my first classes were recordings from this conference. One of my favorites was Suzanne Brockmann www.suzannebrockmann.com, a best seller who spoke on the topic of The Holy Grail Of Voice.
As an ameteur writer I didn't even know what "voice" was. I thought it was dialogue until I listened to Suzanne.
I have since learned the difference between the distinct voice of each character, and the author's voice. In a recent YA post apocolyptic book I read. It was not the author's voice that captured me. I probably couldn't pick her voice out if I read more of her work in a different context. However, her lead male character was a Bayou Cajun from Louisianna. His voice was so distinct, so true to his character and so unforgettable that I wish I could read a story all from his point of view.
Dialogue and Dialect aside, I have discovered how important it is for the author's voice to be equally as distinct and unique, but also relatable to a variety of readers.
Let me offer some examples: "Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Roth's voice is very distinct. Her descriptions are like the blade of a knife. Sharp. Exact. Straight to the heart. Her simply elegant descriptors are unlike any other YA author I've ever read.
Irma Bombeck-Anything by Irma is like being told a story at the dinner table of Lucille Ball . Both of these references may be out dated for a number of authors, but you can't fight the classics.
Speaking of Classics...Read something by Louis La'mour and then Zane Gray. They both write fantastic western's with common storylines and characters but there is no mistaking La'mour for Gray.
Just as J.K. Rollins sounds nothing like J. R. Tolkien, though both write fantasy and are British. Your voice will be distinctly your own. Don't try to write like Hemingway or Dickens. Don't try to listen to someone else's dialogue, purple prose, or narrative to mimic it. Although learning from other authors is vital, trying to be the "Next" so-and-so means you're not the next "YOU."
There was a teasing little controversy between Nicholas Sparks and Jody Picolt over there books. Both write sweet, beautiful, tragic stories full of romance, human emotion, and trial. Both will tear your heart out.
Once again...What would the world have missed out on if picolt had wasted her talents trying to "Be" Sparks?
Do what only you can do. Write what is in your heart and mind, like you write. Your readers will know and recognize you as long as you are true to your voice.
And if you have THE VOICE OF A RUSTY RAKE? Well, no one will ever forget you.