“Voice” is the most difficult aspect of writing to learn. This worksheet will help educators effectively teach “voice.” Give it to your students for homework or a fun classroom activity

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Effective “voice” is tricky to master. It would be dangerous to employ “voice” in your writing before learning the appropriate techniques. The following will teach you all you need to know about writing with “voice.”

1. Impersonal Words

Avoid any impersonal words. Rather than he, she, or it, use specific names or terms to illustrate your point. Readers will have more investment in your “voice” if they do not have to discern which he is the he to which you are referring. The same can be said for she and it. Rather than saying “He took her to it,” say “Claudio took Maria to the tennis court.” The difference is clear: the second sentence has significantly more “voice” than the first.

2. Know Your English

English is a fascinating language precisely because of all of the words. English words range from the small to the large, the abstract to the concrete, the vibrant to the dull. Pick any sentence from this worksheet and you will find that it is in English.

If you are invested in writing, you know about verbs and nouns. But do you know about adverbs and adjectives? If verbs and nouns are the kings and queens of English, adverbs and adjectives are certainly its clergy and small business owners. Don’t allow your writing to fall to purgatory or poverty: use adverbs and adjectives to enliven your sentences. For example, rather than saying “the factors that caused the refiguring of the present system are still debated over today,” try “the controversial factors that caused the drastic refiguring of the present system are still ferociously debated today.” Already the sentence has more “voice” and is thus a more effective and affecting English sentence.

3. Care

Care about what you are writing. A reader can always tell whether or not a writer cares about his or her topic. The easiest way to make your care apparent is to stay on topic. Follow your thoughts only as far as they are thoughts about the writing topic. The moment the reader notices a writer getting off topic is the moment the reader decides that the writer does not care about the topic about which the writer is writing. At this point, the reader is bound to become frustrated, confused, or bored. A frustrated, confused, or bored reader means a writer has failed to appropriately discipline himself or herself in “voice.” Do not be one of these writers.

Important Clarification

It is often asked: Is “voice” the same thing as “personal voice?” The answer is: “Sometimes — it depends upon the assignment.” If you have to write about yourself, try to be more rather than less personal. If you have to write about a book — let’s say Contrarians and the Confusion of the Classroom by J. Harrington Myles — try to be less rather than more personal. If you have to write about history, avoid “voice” altogether.

Let us try to use “voice” for ourselves.

Grade the sentences below from 1-10. 1 uses the least amount of “voice,” while 10 uses the most amount of “voice.” Then, modify each sentence, giving it the most “voice” possible.

  1. The result of each case suggested a thorough tampering of the jury.
  2. Complete and unadulterated was her desire to overcome the obstacle at hand
  3. Sam’s peculiar likeness to Gary surprised every friend except for Clyde.
  4. Recreational activity supports an active and creative mind.

You are now close to mastering “voice.” Create your own sentences on a separate sheet of paper. Then trade sentences with a partner. Grade and modify the sentences using the same method you used on the sentences above.

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