10-second review: Observations on voice in writing.
Title: “Looking and Listening for My Voice.” Toby Fulwiler. College Composition and Communication (May 1990), 214 -220. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Quote: “If there is such a thing as an authentic voice, it is protean and shifty.”
Quote: “Most published voices are carefully constructed. They are composed, revised and edited to present the self in particular ways, conveying as best they can an image on paper that corresponds to a self-image in the author’s head.”
Quote: “When people hear a voice in writing, what they most likely hear is a tone….”
Comment: One’s voice or persona in writing changes. Published voices are constructed to convey the writer’s chosen self-image. The major characteristic of voice is tone.
What does voice mean to me? Conversational or formal. Calm or pugnacious. Ironic or straightforward. Earnest. Enthusiastic. Persuasive. Informative. Determined. I think that voice is part of one’s purpose. Do I ever think about voice when I write? No. Should I? Yes. It’s part of how I shape my expression.
This article made me think about voice, something I have not considered very often. I remember one time when I did deliberately adopt a persona or voice. I was giving a speech. It was afternoon and after lunch. The audience of school administrators and supervisors dozed through the previous speaker. I said to myself, “They’re not going to do that to me.” I defended my K-12 language arts curriculum pugnaciously, to say the least. The audience certainly did not sleep, but some members of the audience displayed their anger because of my tone.
Will I be a different writer if I consider voice when I write? I think I might be more careful about what and how I say something. Will I teach voice in my writing instruction? I need to think about that. RayS.