Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Finding your voice

"Voice" is the intangible personality or presence that gives power to a piece of writing. Voice is what makes your writing sound like "you" and no one else, and it is the quality or tone that either grabs a reader's attention or leaves a reader cold. Writing without voice sounds dry and detached; writing with voice sounds alive and engaging as if the words themselves have reached out and touched you.

One way to find your own voice is by writing frequently: this is one of the potential benefits of blogging. By writing (and sharing your writing) frequently, you can, over time, discover the "true voice" that lurks behind your words.

Detecting your own voice, however, can be difficult. We're sometimes too close to our writing to judge it objectively, and we sometimes can't tell whether a particular piece will speak powerfully to readers. This is why getting feedback on our writing is so helpful. Often our readers can find our voice more accurately than we ourselves can.

Today I'd like you to work with a partner to help one another find your blogging voice. In pairs or groups of three, I want you to read someone else's ENTIRE blog from the most recent posts to the very first one. (To do this, you'll have to use the archive links in the blog's sidebar.) As you're reading, I want you to right-click and open in a new window the permalink to a handful of entries (between 1 and 3) that you think demonstrate the strongest voice. In other words, as you are reading, make note of
  • the blog's best entry
  • the blog's most powerful entry
  • the blog's most genuine or "real" entry

When you've determined (and right-clicked) the handful of entries you think are the best, most powerful, or most "real," post a comment on the blog's MOST RECENT entry. In this comment, copy and past the permalinks to the handful of entries you selected, and tell the writer why you think these entries are particularly note worthy. Then, I want you to tell the writer how you would describe their voice: what sort of authorial tone or "personality" do they present to their readers? (For example, do they have a humorous voice, a trustworthy voice, a sarcastic voice, a witty voice, a confessional voice, a conversational voice, etc.)


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