Tomorrow in class, we’ll talk about some of the work that was done over the weekend. Once again, the subject of voice (and I don’t mean passive versus active) will come up. We’ve talked about how describing (showing versus telling) helps us as writers use our own voices and not some unnatural, unsatisfying “reporter” voice. But there’s a lot more to it.
Probably, you thought you knew your voice before you came into the reporting class. Probably, you feel as if you’ve lost it, struggled to hang onto it, or just recently regained it in your writing for the Missourian or Vox (oh, and then there’s that Vox voice).
But what are we talking about when we talk about voice? It’s the rhythm of your writing, the word choices, the phrasing, the transitions and the organization of the narrative.
It’s what the reader actually hears as he or she sort of whispers to himself/herself what you’ve written. That’s called sub-vocalization, and it apparently helps us remember, retain and understand what we’ve read.
Remember what I said about “dictating to yourself”? And that bit about how you should read your work aloud?
This is why: The reader hears you. How do you sound? Stiff? Windy (that is, your sentences are so long they cause shortness of breath)? Awkward?
Here’s a voice I admire. Dexter Filkins has tremendous authority on Iraq and Afghanistan and is still always very clearly himself when he writes. I believe I could pick out a paragraph of his writing from lots of others.
As I sit here blogging this afternoon, I read back on what I’ve written and yep, I am editing. But it’s still me: a little abrupt sometimes, sarcastic, earnest, and a little dramatic maybe.
What qualities come through in your voice? Are you using your blog to let that voice develop?