A labeled anatomical diagram of the vocal fold...
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Voice is a rather nebulous facet of the writing endeavor. How do you explain “voice”?

Well… Here are some of its characteristics:

  • voice is individual
  • voice can be formal or informal
  • voice is often referred to as “tone
  • voice can be your style
  • voice can be a mood

How do you determine it?

It depends on what you’re writing and for whom, but when you’re talking fiction, your voice is YOU. It’s how YOU write. It’s how YOU see the world. It’s the way you talk to yourself inside your head, and everyone has a different approach.

My voice tends to be rather familiar. I write in second person familiar, so I use lots of yous, contractions and I hope, a friendly tone. That’s appropriate for the Internet. Most people want easy readability and to feel as if they know the person writing.

That wasn’t so when I wrote my bigographies. I knew that they needed to be more formal because they were for high school and college students, so I had to tone my voice down. I needed to be more formal and use no contractions. My sentences could be quite complex, but I never wanted them to be stiff and unyielding. I wanted people to read what I wrote, learn from it, and still enjoy what they were reading. I wasn’t writing textbooks.

So, what’s your voice and how do you find it?

My advice is to just start writing, and to do it every day. You will learn what your own voice is that way. So, keep a journal, and even if you only write one paragraph, be sure to write! Then, later as you’re developing a story, you’ll be able to tell it in your own words and in your own voice.

Magazine writing is a bit different. You need to study the magazines you want to write for and to be sure that your voice is in line with the magazine’s overall tone. That’s a little more tricky, but not really. Why? You’ll probably be attracted by magazines that resonate with you anyway, and no doubt, you like to read in the style that you’ll write.

So, just write about anything for a while, even if it’s only to describe your shoe or what you had for breakfast. Writing every day will definitely help you to develop your unique and special voice.

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