Creating a specific voice for any writing project is a great strategy for successful writing. What is a voice? In writing terms, it means choosing your words carefully to create a distinctive personality. You want your readers to feel like they are interacting with a real live person, with a rich history and even personality quirks.
The voice that you choose for your writing project can lead your readers to feel differently about your story, characters and even your style. Consider the following two examples of text, both describing the same scene. Try reading them out loud for maximum effect:
Charlie jumped out of his car, waltzed up the sidewalk, threw open the front door of his house and burst into the front hall. Humming and snapping his fingers, he grooved up the stairs into his bedroom and threw his jacket on the floor. He caught his reflection in the mirror and winked at it. “Who’s the man?” he asked himself. “Hint… me!”
Charlie felt really happy. He drove home after work, went inside his house, and celebrated all by himself by dancing around a little bit and saying silly things to himself in the mirror.
If these paragraphs were from two different novels, which novel would you choose to read? There’s a stark contrast between the voices in those paragraphs. Not only does the first paragraph show the reader more details about what Charlie does when he feels happy, rather than just declaring his state of mind, but it also gives the reader more insight into Charlie’s personality and mannerisms, bringing the character to life.
The same goes for writing projects that are not novels. Words are written for others to read, as part of a conversation between author and readers. Readers will be more engaged in your written projects when you write relatable, appealing content. Memoirs, business books, self-help books, even marketing copy – using a distinctive voice can improve your writing success in any of these genres. Instead of dull language that falls flat and fails to hook the reader, a creative and engaging voice will lead to more readers and more success.
Even in more formal writing, it’s perfectly acceptable to use some informal language as long as you use flawless punctuation and language rules. Occasionally, spelling and grammar can be considered more like guidelines than rules. Some famous works of literature have managed to break all the rules, e.g., A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, or The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. These two books are shining examples of very unique voices, and use a great deal of slang from cover to cover.