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Writing: Voice

Use Your FACE!


Today's Snack: What do you most like to feed your face? Most everybody likes cheese! So stick a straight pretzel into a cube of cheddar cheese . . . and repeat 5 times. Five pretzels, five cheese cubes. That should make your face curve into a nice, big smile. Into that smile, pour a glass of milk. Ahhhh!




Old magazines with photos

Lined paper and pencil



Good writing should be as unique and one-of-a-kind as every human being on the planet.


Think of all your friends, family members, people you know through school and church or synagogue . . . every single one of them has a different way of walking, a different-sounding voice, a different way of dressing, and so on.


It's the same way with good writing. When people read what you write, they should be able to "read" your personality, too.


They can do that if you have a lot of "voice" in your writing - a lot of personality that you share with your readers. It makes them feel as though they know you, just by reading the words that you write.


To write effectively, you have to "plant" your knowledge, beliefs and attitudes into the words that you write. Without "voice," you're just stringing words together in a row. But WITH "voice," you're communicating! Words just happen to be the thing that you use to deliver your message.


Writing with different "voices" is like putting different clothes on a doll, or using the same ball for several different outdoor games. Same doll, same ball . . . but, depending on how you've changed the doll clothes or the rules of the ball game, it's a completely different result.


Writing with "voice" is easy, after you've had a little practice. You will quickly learn how to make your writing exciting, interesting, vivid and fun to read.


And here's a tip that will really help:


In the margin of every paper you write, draw a tiny picture of your face, and one hand. Always do this in light pencil so you can erase it when you turn in your paper.


What is this for? The sketch is a little reminder. It will remind you to use your five senses when you write, to help you communicate completely. Then your "voice" will be rich with detail and different from anybody else's.


Write what you (or the character in your story):


  • See


  • Hear


  • Smell


  • Taste


  • Touch


To try this out, select a photo from an old magazine or catalog. Use that photo as the setting for a short story. It can be about anything you want.


Focus on a strong "voice" for your story, with lots of interesting, colorful, descriptive words.


Now, as you write, make sure to include details that could be collected through each of those five senses. Use your imagination! You should always include words and phrases that will help the reader imagine what you or the character in your story would see, hear, smell, taste and touch.


Many times, it's just not practical to include details that come from smell or taste. But if you can work those in, they add a lot to any piece of writing.


Whenever you finish a paper, re-read it. Make a little checkmark on your sketch's eye, ear, nose, mouth and hand to show that you have used each of those five senses to create a strong "voice" in your paper.


If you realize that you haven't included any sounds in your description, go back through your paper and see where it might make sense to work in some sound. Do the same with the other senses. It might be as simple as adding one word. For example, to work in a little sense of touch, if you've written about a fence, you could add one word: "the splintery fence" or "the ice-cold fence" - however you'd imagine that fence might feel to the touch.


Remember to "erase your face" - your face sketch, that is -- before you turn in your paper. Then get ready to put a smile on your own face, when you get a good grade for your well-written paper with great "voice."


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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