Voice in Writing: 77 Questions to Find Yours

Posted on Jun 21, 2016

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Finding your unique voice in writing can be so tricky. Have you ever thought, “Why do I seem to become more boring the longer I write?” Or, maybe you’re thinking, “Why do I struggle to write when I can talk to people so easily about the same subject?”

Sometimes, there’s a disconnect between how we want to say something and how it actually sounds. Our voice as a writer can get lost, tainted, or may just be inconsistent. The way to combat this is found in a two-part solution:

  1. Create an avatar.
  2. Write to that avatar.

What Is An Avatar?

To a writer, an avatar is a composite of characteristics of people that you want as your ideal readers. This person should have a name, a picture, a specific demographic, and other detailed qualities. Once you can easily hold a picture of who this person is in your mind’s eye, you can develop your writer’s voice by writing to your avatar.

When you hold your avatar in mind, you’re able to write as if you’re having a conversation. This allows you to be more authentic, more helpful, and it enables you to connect with your reader – which will in turn help you to sell more books.

If your readers are the right readers (the people that your avatar represented), they will think as they read your book, “Oh my goodness, this book was written exactly for me!”

How Do I Create An Avatar?

A good first step is to think, “Who is one person in my life that this book would help the most?”

If there is someone that you think fits the bill exactly, then voila! Write the book for that person.

Chandler Bolt, founder of Self-Publishing School, even suggests starting each chapter off by addressing your avatar.

For example, if your avatar’s name is Sharon, you could start each chapter by saying, “Dear Sharon.” Later, in your editing process, you can delete that initial greeting.

Chandler says, “What you’ll find is that when you’re struggling with your voice and you’re not sure what to say, you’ll just come back to, ‘What would [name of avatar] want to hear right now? What story would most resonate with them? How could I write the next portion of my book in a language that would resonate the most to [name of avatar]?'”

You will write faster, you will write easier, and you will write books that your readers crave.

Is an Avatar Necessary?

Some people may opt for a slew of statistics that represent the general demographic of their reader instead of an avatar. But basing your writing voice off of a generic understanding of your ideal reader will result in a generic portrayal of your message.

And, with a generic message, your audience will be too broad. As it’s been said, “When your audience is ‘everyone,’ your audience is no one.”

“But I Don’t Have An Avatar!”

If you don’t know someone that perfectly embodies your avatar, don’t stress!

Here are 77 questions that you can answer to flesh out your avatar, and in turn, solidify your voice as a writer.

Determine Your Avatar’s Demographics

  1. What is your avatar’s name?
  2. What is your avatar’s age?
  3. What is your avatar’s gender?
  4. What is the marital status of your avatar?
  5. How many children does your avatar have?
  6. What are the ages of your avatar’s children?
  7. What is your avatar’s occupation?
  8. What is their job title?
  9. How many years have they been in their current position?
  10. What is your avatar’s annual income?
  11. How many jobs have they held throughout their career?
  12. What is your avatar’s level of education?
  13. Where did they attend school?
  14. What type of experience did they have at school?
  15. Who were their friends at school?
  16. What are your avatar’s political views?
  17. What are your avatar’s religious views?

It is even important that you define your avatar’s physical characteristics. This means that you should even have a picture of your avatar!

You can easily find a picture on the internet to find an image that captures the look of your created avatar.

  1. What is your avatar’s hair color?
  2. What is your avatar’s eye color?
  3. What is your avatar’s weight?
  4. What is your avatar’s height?
  5. What does their facial expressions look like when they’re frustrated? Tired? Confused? Happy? Surprised? Taken off-guard?

Determine Your Avatar’s Personality

  1. Describe your avatar’s personality at home, at work, and in other social situations. (If you’re stuck, consider the questions, “What makes your avatar anxious?” “Does your avatar feel secure in social situations?” “Does your avatar crave attention or try to avoid it?” “Does your avatar feel accepted in their relationships?”)
  2. If you could tell your avatar anything, and you knew that they would not only hear you, but apply what you’ve said, how would you instruct them?
  3. What are exact quotes that your avatar would say? (If you are unsure of this, simply watch people—whether personal friends or other online presences—and observe how they speak. What do their Facebook comments look like, their Amazon book reviews, etc.?)
  4. What thoughts keep your avatar awake at night?
  5. What does your avatar’s typical social environment look like?
  6. How does their culture influence their personality and decisions?
  7. What things does your avatar feel like they have control over?
  8. What things does your avatar feel like are out of their reach?
  9. What does your avatar worry about?
  10. Who does your avatar celebrate?
  11. Has your avatar’s life lived up to their expectations?

Determine Your Avatar’s Hobbies and Interests

  1. What type of music does your avatar listen to?
  2. How often does your avatar listen to music?
  3. Does he or she like sports? Do they enjoy watching? Playing?
  4. Is your avatar interested in art?
  5. Where does your avatar want to travel?
  6. Where has your avatar already traveled?
  7. What does your avatar stay up-to-date on?
  8. What are your avatar’s favorite clothing brands?

Determine Your Avatar’s Goals and Values

  1. What does your avatar want to accomplish this week? This year? Before they die?
  2. What is your avatar’s process for working towards those goals?
  3. What is your avatar committed to (values)?
  4. In what ways does your avatar wish to improve their family situation?
  5. What would your avatar pay almost anything for?

Determine Your Avatar’s Challenges and Pain Points

  1. What challenges is your avatar currently facing?
  2. What causes your avatar pain?
  3. What is the worst thing that could happen to your avatar if their problem (that you are solving in your book) wasn’t solved?
  4. How would this make them feel?
  5. What is your avatar afraid of?
  6. What does your avatar dislike about their current situation?

Determine Where Your Avatar Spends Time

  1. Where does your avatar hang out (physical locations)?
  2. Where does your avatar spend time on the internet?
  3. What books does your avatar read? Digital Marketer, an online business that specializes in internet marketing, suggests that you answer the question, “My ideal [reader] would read [book name], but no one else would.” By determining a book that your avatar would read, but no one else would, you are able to understand the personality and buying traits of your avatar even more.
  4. What magazines does your avatar read?
  5. What blogs and websites does your avatar read and spend time on?
  6. Does your avatar use Twitter? Why?
  7. Does your avatar use Facebook? Why?
  8. Does your avatar use LinkedIn? Why?
  9. What other social media platforms does your avatar use? Why?
  10. How much time does your avatar spend online?
  11. What conferences does your avatar attend?
  12. Who does your avatar consider gurus or experts?
  13. What types of technology does your avatar use (what type of phone, computer, television, etc.)?
  14. What does your avatar think of themselves?
  15. What does your avatar’s friends think about them?
  16. What does your avatar’s family think about them?

Determine Objections Your Avatar Might Have To Your Book/Message

  1. What possible objections might your avatar have to your book/message?
  2. Why would your avatar choose not to buy your book?
  3. What is your avatar’s ability to purchase products from you?
  4. How does your avatar perceive products similar to yours?

Determine What Your Avatar’s Experience With Your Book Should Be

  1. What did your avatar do before reading your book?
  2. What will your avatar think while reading your book?
  3. What is your avatar trying to accomplish by reading your book?
  4. What will your avatar do after reading your book?
  5. What will make your avatar come back to your book?

Steps to Find Your Voice in Writing

To create your avatar, something that will greatly enhance your voice as a writer and your all-around ability to sell to and connect with your readers, do the following:

  1. Answer the questions above.
  2. Based on the information you gather, write a story about your avatar. Transform the facts into a short narrative about this person’s life.
  3. Write your book to this person and watch your writing voice become more consistent and powerful.

Knowing who you are writing for not only influences future blog posts, sales copy, email marketing, and paid traffic advertising, it also helps you write your book.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

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