Writer's WebPutting Voice into a Paper
by Krysti Sibley

Tips for Putting Voice into a Paper

Activities for Developing Your Voice

1) Either alone or with a friend, go to a local restaurant, cafe, or fast food chain. Take in not only food, but also atmosphere. Later, write your own review in a voice that approximates the ambience of the restaurant. (Hickey 61)

2) Listen to your favorite music artist. Describe his or her voice. Begin by listing the personality features of the speaker you hear as you listen. Then, try to support your list by identifying the language habits or combination of habits that seem to give rise to those features. It will be helpful to find the song's written words on the tape, cd, or Internet. Consider these elements, for example:

1. Level of vocabulary.
2. Predominance of multi syllabic or monosyllabic words
3. Number of sentences ending on monosyllabic words, especially hard-consonant-ended words
4. Frequency of simple sentences or complex sentences
5. Frequency of sentence fragments
6. Average sentence length (number of words). Does this speaker depend on mostly short or long sentences?
7. Length variation: varied a lot or a little? In a representative paragraph, mark the ends of sentences with a slash mark. Read the paragraph aloud. What does the rhythm of sentences tell you about the speaker?
8. Punctuation. Does the speaker rely much on punctuation within a sentence -
interruptions, lists, clauses joined by semicolons? If so, read these sentences out loud. How does the intonation pattern created by internal punctuation contribute to the voice you hear?

(Hickey 68)

Works Cited:
Bolton, Anne. Personal Interview. 22 November 1998.
Elbow, Peter. Writing with Power. New York, NY: Oxford UP, 1981: 279-337.
------. "Voice as a Lightning Rod for Dangerous Thinking." 46th College Composition and Communication Conference. Washington, DC, March 23-25, 1995.
Ferrante, Todd. Telephone interview. 22 November 1998.
Hickey, Dona. Developing a Written Voice. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1993
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well. New York, NY: Harper Perennial Press, 1976: 233-242.

 

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