I've been struggling (good struggling) a lot with my writing "voice" of late. It's such a crucial element to a good story and yet it's not something you think about right away when you first dabble in writing.
I've been reading a book that was recommended to me called Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight. He talks about how there are several stages of development for a writer. The first stage is always very conceptual. An author thinks of interesting concepts and little else. Like a really good opening line or scene with no plans for how it could actually unfold into a fully developed plot.
I think if I had read that when I first started publishing my stories I would have totally denied it. My stories were perfect back then. Any reviews that said otherwise was an affront on my genius.
I think if I had read that by my second year of writing/publishing I would have acknowledged the truth of it and been embarrassed. Like I should remove all of my books from Amazon and completely rewrite all of them.
But now? I'm comfortable enough with my writing to acknowledge the truth of what he said and realize that I am, in fact, human. I need to develop my writing skills just like every other human being who claims the title of author. And this takes time. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. I had to write the stories I did in order to evolve. It's a natural process.
There's nothing new under the sun when it comes to plots. You could make an argument that just about every possible plot element has been done before somewhere else. So the key is not your idea so much as how you deliver this idea.
I find this... difficult.
For one thing there's no way to quantify it. It's not like you can always apply x,y and z to a certain scene and voila! Your writing voice appears!
For another thing I'm not even sure what my voice is trying to say at times. What kind of a writer am I? three years ago I would have scoffed at this question. I would have said the story idea makes the writer. Now I'm thinking it's the other way around.