About Voice

Voice is an absolutely vital part of your writing brand, but one of the hardest to quantify. It makes the difference between dry, unmemorable writing and the kind of thing you share with your friends. It’s hard to explain exactly, but look here: Below is a video of Metallica’s The Memory Remains off their studio album. Fast forward to 2:00 and listen to the chorus. Marianne Faithfull is crooning away with a sense of pain and loss that makes you want to curl up somewhere with a Sylvia Plathe novel and a bottle of ambien. Now here’s a copy of the same song from a live concert they did with the help of the San Francisco Philharmonic. Faithfull’s voice is replaced with a brass section. FFW to 1:57 for the same section of song. And now you want to join a cavalry charge, maybe go uproot a tree somewhere. Same song. Same verse. Same notes, lyrics, tone and pacing. But the instrument changed and the song is utterly different. So it is with voice. You can tell the same story to far different effect just by fiddling with how you tell it. Here’s a voice exercise to do on your own. Go read an article on the same topic at the sites for FOX news and for MSNBC. In most cases, even though both typically take their base information from the same news feeds, you’ll feel like you’ve read about two different events. If you have time, play with this exercise in the comments below. Tell a one-to-two paragraph story using two different voices. Maybe one as a dry british butler and another as an angry teen. Maybe with the voice of a cop in one, and a robber in the other. The best way to establish your voice is to play with all kinds of voices until you find yours. Have fun, and as always, thanks for listening.

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