“The simpler you say it, the more eloquent it is.”
Think about a writer you really love to read and why. A big part of your favorite’s appeal is probably the voice they convey as they write: the personal style that made their words truly their own. Some of this has to do with word choice, with syntax, with color, with rhythm. Relaxing and allowing your personal voice to shine through your words can be challenging, but so rewarding!
In his wonderful guide, A Writer’s Coach, Jack Hart spends a whole chapter on voice. As he puts it, “You create an individual style once you start to feel like yourself when you write. The words must become as comfortable as your skin. If you’re relaxed at the keyboard, your audience will feel a personal connection as they read. ‘Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself,’ said Marianne Moore, ‘is almost sure to please others.’” Our boy Jack offers five approaches to developing your own voice:
1 Write as you speak: Read your copy aloud. Does it sound like you? Strive to
make your language flow as naturally as possible.
2 Keep it simple: Identify “the three stuffiest words” in your writing and work to
eliminate them. Why say “reside” when you can say “live”?
3 Cultivate precision: The more precise you are in your word choices, the more
concrete the images you’ll create in your readers’ minds.
4 Start directly: Sentences that begin with long complex phrases tend to obscure
meaning rather than clarify it.
5 Write quickly: When writing your first draft, “be fast, loose, and accepting.”
Then go back and eliminate clichés by substituting fresh images.