Whether you’re a writer or editor, student or teacher, you may sometimes wonder how to explain “voice” or how to use it effectively in your writing. There are two major definitions of the term:
Aside from defining “voice,” the below slideshow does three things. It explains that voice is created by the writer’s diction, syntax (including sentence length) and tone; examines the often false dichotomy between voices that are written/formal and those that are spoken/informal; and provides several examples of first-person prose, each exhibiting a different voice. Examples include excerpts from the following texts: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, Edisto by Padgett Powell, Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and “Issues I Dealt With in Therapy” by Matthew Klam.
In its examination of “voice,” the slideshow focuses mainly on the second definition above, but its findings are also relevant to an understanding of “voice” as defined in the first definition.
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