What are some aspects of writing that make up a writer's "voice"?
(1) Word choice. What words we choose to use affect voice, whether you choose casual, more academic, slang, or some combination of these. The use of abstract and concrete words and foreign words can also apply here.
(2) Sentence structure. Do you tend to write long, winding, complex sentences or short, choppy ones? Do you like to use fragments? Do you use commas?
(3) Attitude and tone. These are also conveyed by the above elements. It might also mean if someone likes to use a lot of words that convey sound (yahoo!) or if they are sarcastic, humorous, serious, reflective, etc
(4) Content and context can also be part of what drives voice. Someone who writes long descriptions of nature might adopt a different voice than someone who describes the excitement of a match in a boxing ring.
Where we come from, how we were raised, our patterns of speech, the use of stories and metaphors, also influence voice, as well as gender and class.
One of the best explanations of “voice” is in Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World. She describes her own struggle to leave behind a voice where she was “committing the act of literature” and eventually finding a way to match her writing voice more with her speaking voice.
Since we usually speak more casually than we write – especially if we’ve been steeped in academic writing, as she was --this is one goal. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Interested in learning more about voice, and how you can develop your own writer's voice? I'll be back tomorrow with some insight.