Personality, Live and In Color
Let's have something colorful! How about a sprig of fresh broccoli, a baby
carrot, a cherry tomato, and a green pepper slice, dipped in ranch dressing?
Try some bright red tomato juice to go with it.
children's book, such as Goodnight Moon
that you have written
pencils or marking pens
You don't have to be a detective to
figure out a lot about a person based on how that person writes. Just listening
to the words and sentences the writer uses will answer many questions.
You'll know whether the writer is young or old, serious or
humorous, at ease or nervous, pushy or meek, rich or poor, from the United
States or not, and indeed, from WHAT PART of the United States.
How can you tell all that just from
the words a person chooses?
Because whenever we write, we expose part of our background. We
reveal our style, our approach to life, how we feel . . . how we "roll."
Each one of us is like a mirror to the world, reflecting our
thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, experiences and background. Usually, we
can't help but let it show in what we write.
And that is GOOD! It is the mark of a good writer to be brave
enough to let personality shine through in a piece of writing.
There are several facets, or
aspects, of voice in writing:
Sentence length and variety.
Risk-taking (extra revealing of strong
Getting "real" with slang, casual language,
unexpected or unfamiliar words, or other ways to connect with a specific
Variety of voice, or a temporary change
in style for emphasis.
There are many, many ways to say that someone moved across a room,
for example. The blandest and most boring is to say he "went." That doesn't
show much of the character's personality, or yours.
But if you wrote that he "slithered" across the room, we know that
you detest him. That tells us something about him and about you.
Or if you say that he "bounced" across the room, we'll want to
know why he has all that energy, and we'll depend on you to tell us by your
word choices whether that is a good thing . . . or, if you're using a more
sarcastic voice, a really annoying thing.
So remember to choose colorful, unique, distinct words that have
real personality in your writing. That's how to capture the reader's attention,
and keep it throughout your paper.
Sentence length and
By how short or how long a sentence is, the writer reveals his or
her personality, too.
If you want to show that you are frustrated, you could have a
one-word sentence with an exclamation point: "Darn!"
Or if you want to describe something that is complicated and
intricate, you could write a rather complicated and intricate sentence, like
this one, with a lot of punctuation.
Simply by our choice of topic, too, we reveal a little about our
personality. The kinds of things that interest you tell a lot about you.
That goes for the topic of your whole paper, or the topic of each
paragraph within it.
If you choose to write about the funniest thing that ever happened
to you, that says something about what you are like, compared to if you choose
to write technical details about the most fantastic bridge that has ever been
Both of those are fine topics! It is
in the choice - personal humor, or engineering facts -- that we get a glimpse
of what is important to you.
The other aspects of "voice," including risk-taking, use of
special vocabulary, and varying your style for extra emphasis, all play a role,
Every personality is different . . . and every piece of writing
has a different purpose. The trick is to match your "voice" with what you are
So let's see how a
master of "voice" does it, and check your own writing to see where you might
have strengths and weaknesses.
Because the "voice" of a piece of writing is as
important as the color in a work of art, let's use color as we study these two
pieces of writing.
Review that famous children's book. On a piece
of scratch paper, using your color-coded colored pencils or markers, write down
at least one word or phrase for each of these aspects of "voice":
length and variety.
(extra revealing of strong emotion).
"real" with slang, casual language, or other ways to connect with a specific
of voice, or a temporary change in style for emphasis.
go over the story you wrote, and do the same thing.
you see your personality emerge?
your "voice" distinctive?
working - keep writing - and one day, your words will "sing" to your reader
with power and beauty!