It is inevitable that after a while there is a consistency around the voice in your writing. There are words that you tend to use, sometimes even a similarity in the kind of characters that you create. This isn’t necessarily a conscious act; it is an inherent element of your writing style.

These echoes in writing help form the voice, the viewpoint that distinguishes the writing as unique. Some writing is so distinctive that if an excerpt of prose was provided, the author could be identified without any additional clues.

Perhaps it is due to the maxim ‘write what you know’. Opinion varies as to whether this is a good approach or whether a more adventurous path is recommended, but what is familiar to the writer comes through what is written, even if it is only through small details.

Recently I was looking through some of the short stories that I’ve written. In about a third of them there is at least one dog, and sometimes there is more than one. In most instances this wasn’t a deliberate plot decision; they just seemed to wander into my writing. There are other animals as well, but for me dogs do seem to have a habit of turning up on the page.

This is probably due to the sighs of my mostly patient pup nudging my subconscious as I’m writing early of a morning. The more rascally dogs that appear would be when he’s doing his border patrol, advising all and sundry that this is his space. He seems to leave paw prints on my work from time to time.

Now that I’ve identified this element in my writing, I will be more aware of it. This doesn’t mean that dogs will cease to feature in my writing; I love dogs and this will continue to seep through in my stories. But now that I know, I can use this where appropriate to reinforce my writing voice.

What leaves a mark on your writing?

[Photo: signage at entrance to council depot at Rydalmere]