What is Voice?

voiceVoice is how a writer expresses his vision of the world with thoughts and feelings that are theirs alone.  It is how uniquely a person tells a story.  Simply put, voice is the author’s style.  This voice will convey the writer’s personality, his attitude, his biases, his way of speaking, his thought patterns and experiences as he puts pen to paper.

Many writers struggle to find their voice thinking it is something that can be copied from a great writer or another author.  But this is the wrong thing to do because it will come across as not genuine.  Everyone has their own unique style of writing and it is not something that can or should be borrowed.  It is just simply how a writer chooses to tell a story.

For example, if you ask three writers to write about the Holocaust and the Jewish experience during World War II, you will surely get three different writing voices.  The first writer, a Holocaust survivor, may write about the Jewish experience showing pain and suffering packed with emotion.  The second writer, having studied medicine, may describe the Jewish living experience and health environment using a clinical intonation.  The third writer, having served in the German Army during World War II, may focus on the historical Jewish experience and may even suggest that it was necessary.  It is the lens that we see the world and how that in turn is projected in our writing and our beliefs.  This has a great impact on our writing voice and how we uniquely put words on paper.  Clearly all three Holocaust stories will be written using a different voice and focus.

It is also important to recognize that a writer’s voice should change depending on the point of view being used or else all the characters will sound exactly alike — the points of view being first person, second person, and third person.  It is important to make it interesting for your reader so that they don’t become disinterested or bored.  Example, you can show a character’s way of thinking by using an arm-length’s approach or you can bring the reader inside the head of a character.  It is the writer’s choice.

What should the reader take away with him as he reads a story?  This is the question that all writers should ask as they develop their story, characters and points of view.  The objective should be to make your reader one with the character or characters.  The goal of every writer should be that the reader becomes emerged into the story by way of the characters and plot.  Writers can make this happen by using their unique writing voice and their point of view skills.  Remember, voice and point of view goes hand-in-hand in writing.

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