Everyone who writes has a voice. Experienced writers may have multiple voices. What? How is that possible?
In literature, the voice expresses the narrator or author’s emotions, attitude, tone and point of view through artful, well thought out use of word choice and diction. A voice may be formal or informal; serious or lighthearted; positive or negative; persuasive or argumentative; comical or depressed; witty or straightforward; objective or subjective—truly, voice can reflect any and all feelings and perspectives. A work’s voice directly contributes to its tone and mood; helping the writer create the desired effect he wants his words to have on readers.
Many years ago, dating back to the last century, I taught a writing class in night school. A number of writing components were required of students. Spelling, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, of course, a voice.
Look back at your favorite writers. Each has a distinct literary voice. My favorites include Mark Twain and O. Henry. Yes, I’m that old. More contemporary voices include Berkeley Breathed, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, and XKCD.
Hmmm. There seems to be a recent trend towards brevity. And comics.
I’ve been told that my literary voice is much like my speaking voice. I don’t know if that is good or bad but it’s likely accurate. I think the same way as I speak and thanks to an affinity with the keyboard, my writing carries a similar voice.
What is your writing voice? How can you find it?
MasterClass can help:
In literature, “voice” refers to the rhetorical mixture of vocabulary, tone, point of view, and syntax that makes phrases, sentences, and paragraphs flow in a particular manner.
How do you get there?
Shawn Dewan outlines the traditional methods in 16 Easy Ways To Improve Your Writing Skills.
The list is acceptable, but, well, ugh. 16? Is there an easier way?
As much as I like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice theory, there’s more to literary success than mere practice. As with anything, Michael Miller debunks practice in The Great Practice Myth: Debunking The 10,000 Hour Rule.
When it comes to writing— or nearly anything we do— there must be something else between practice and perfection. Talent? Intestinal fortitude? I’m sure that if I devoted 10,000 hours of practice that I would not become a gifted novelist, a major league pitcher, a rock star, or a sumo wrestler.
Yet, for each, practice is required. So, what constitutes a successful writing style? Practice? A voice? Talent? How do you get there? I like this list from Ginny Wiehardt:
A writer’s tone, choice of words, selection of subject matter, and even punctuation make up the authorial voice. How an author writes conveys their attitude, personality, and character.
That makes sense but you still need to practice. You get good at golf by hitting a lot of golf balls. Writing improves with practice.