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The Writers Voice by Richard Nordquist

abstract: I subscribe to several grammar RSS feeds and blogs. I feel a daily tidbit one way to keep abreast of improvements in my own writing and comprehension of the English language. One of these is Richard Norquist's posts on under Grammar and Composition category. He begins...

"Let me give you Dr. Don's Rule for Distinguished Writing. It's in the voice. You get a call from a friend, you know right away who it is. One paragraph, you know the voice. (Donald Newlove, First Paragraphs: Inspired Openings for Writers and Readers. St. Martin's Press, 1992)

What is a writer's voice? It's a familiar metaphor, of course, perhaps an oxymoron as well. But does voice refer to an aspect of writing that's waiting to be discovered, or is it a distinctive method that must be crafted and cultivated over time? Is it a synonym for style, tone, persona, or diction--or is voice something altogether different from any of these qualities?

While many authors, like Dr. Don, insist that voice is an essential element of effective writing, few agree on just what that element is or even how to recognize it.

To spur your thinking on the nature of voice in writing, we've gathered these ten observations (some contradictory, others complementary) from professional writers and teachers of writing.

Defining Voice
Like a singer's, a writer's voice is an elusive thing, the sum of everything that goes into his or her style of expression. A distinctive vocabulary might contribute to it. So might a preference for particular sentence forms or syntax. Or voice might emerge from even more subtle dimensions of writing. Unique angles of approach to subjects, maybe. Or a characteristic pace or degree of formality.

Ultimately, voice is the writer's personal style coming through in the writing. It's as complex and varied as human personality itself."


January 28, 2013



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