Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Put Your Voice on the Page

No, no, you don’t have to be an opera singer. In fact, I’d rather you weren’t. (Sorry to all the fans out there.) I dislike opera.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that everyone’s got a voice. You’ve got vocal chords, a mouth, and fingers on the keyboard. We write to share that voice, to make it heard.

The point is, are you making your voice unique? When people read your words, do they hear you? These are valid and important questions for every writer. Voice is a crucial aspect of writing, especially quality, unique writing that people want to read. Whatever kind of writing you’re into, voice is a part of it, and we all have to master the craft.

Why Does Voice in My Writing Matter?

Voice is a term for the tone of your writing. It’s complicated to explain, for it involves word choice, sentence structure, and all the little quirks you employ as a writer. It’s what makes your writing different from your neighbor’s.

Including voice in your writing will make you stand out, let your personality come out in your words, and ramp up the level of your writing. Anyone can pen flat, dull words. It takes skill to implement voice.

Let’s say I’m a surfer. “Any dude can write boring words, man. You gotta have intense mastery of the skill to write with voice. Righteous.”

How about a gangster? “Yo, man, any old cracka can rap words to make ya sleep without a peep. It’s your voice that makes you unique. Ya heard?”

High school nerd? “Anybody can record dull declarations that lack clarity. It takes a great deal of proficiency to adequately understand and apply voice. Was that correct, Professor?”

Ok, so these examples are a little exaggerated. But you get the point. Everyone’s voice is different, and while yours doesn’t have to stand out as much as these examples (in fact, it’s better if it doesn’t), it does have to be your own. The more you practice, the more you’ll get it! Voice will make the words you’re putting on the page your own.

Ok, Ok, Voice is Important. How Do I Get It?

Acquiring a unique writing voice that’s not obnoxious or overly noticeable is difficult. For one thing, we can’t use our own talking voices and just translate them to the page. If we did do this, our work would be chock full of umms and likes and all those little words in speaking that we don’t notice but that would really stand out in writing. So how can you get a solid writing voice? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

· Practice by writing down a conversation you had with a friend. Leave out all the umms and likes in your talking voice and see what style of writing comes out.

· Write a made up paragraph of dialogue with you as a character. If you’re working on a novel, insert yourself in a scene and see how you talk on paper.

· Make a list of unique words from your vocabulary that you can incorporate into your writing.

· Practice writing pieces with different styles of your own voice. Try using a formal style for business, a story-telling style for fiction, or a conversation style for blog posts.

Work At It

All these techniques will help you get started, but the most important thing you can do to develop your writing voice is to practice. Try out these ideas in a variety of ways. The more you write, the more you’ll find that you develop a voice of your own. Voice is what makes writing interesting and different, and it will make yours stand out. Don’t take my word for it; try incorporating it!

No comments:

Post a Comment