What makes one Writing Voice different from the other? What… exactly… is the difference between a poet’s voice and a blogger’s voice? Can you create that tone on demand?
The Heartbeat of Writing
Writing Voice is a slippery creature. It’s there… or it isn’t. You feel it… or you don’t.
But there’s no denying that strong voice is the heartbeat of your writing. (Scholastic provides a nice reminder poster here.)
There are some good games that you can play, like this one on Copyblogger. (Who would you put on the face of a new coin? Write for 3 minutes and explain.)
You can also find a list of writers with a strong voice. The advice is to read widely, find voices that appeal to you, and let that voice sneak into your writing. This works, but it’s slow-going and imprecise.
How to Find and Emulate Voice… Fast
To help you discern what’s making your voice (or someone else’s voice) work.. at a glance… here is your 3-Step Voice Recognition Framework.
The three elements are:
Presentation is your vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, and the more technical aspects of writing. It is how you choose to present yourself to the world. Presentation also includes: Topic, Overarching Structure (blog post vs. full-length book; op ed vs. trade journal article) and Theme.
Attitude is your moods, values, beliefs and motivation. It shows what you think of the world and life in general, or how you feel about people and things. It is your backstory and reasons “why” showing up in the writing. It’s what you love and what you hate; what you fight for and what you rage against. Attitude also includes: Story, Examples and Anecdotes, and Self-censoring (what you don’t say).
Tone It’s not what you say—the facts—but how you say it (or write it). Tone includes: Musicality, Pacing, Rhythm, Visual Language, Metaphor, Word Power (short, dense, familiar, active, strong, and specific), Sensing Language (see, hear, taste, touch, smell, etc.) and Action.
The magic of this system is that you can choose any author, look at these three elements, and instantly know what makes their voice “work”.
How to Write in Your Client’s Voice
To write in your client’s voice, start here:
- Spend a few minutes free writing your ideas about the client’s topic. Write in your own voice and have fun.
- Find 3 things that stand out in your client’s voice. Look at their blog. Or, interview them and record the conversation. Do they tell stories? What do their sentences look like? Do they use certain words repeatedly? Any 3 elements will do. You don’t have to know everything about their voice to create a convincing impression.
- Copy and paste a short sample of their writing onto a blank page. Pull your free writing up onto a second blank page. Slowly smooth the two pages together, so that your ideas start to show in their voice.
One side note: Learning to write in another person’s voice won’t cause you to lose your own voice. In fact, the opposite is true. Learning to write in multiple voices will give you a crystal clear idea of when your writing is “you” or “not you”. And if you ever wander off your own writing path, you now have a way to get back on track instantly.
What authors do you love to read because of their strong voice? Comment below.