13-year old student example of Voice in Writing:

Giving them that urine sample, that’s always a pleasure isn’t it. There is always the aiming question. You expect me to be able to pee into this small jar? Do I get a funnel? I always wonder why the female nurses don’t sympathize. Any woman who has been asked to pee into anything smaller than a beer cup without getting urine all over your arms understands. I feel sorry for the man at the desk that you give you urine to. When you give him your wet jar that you have just recently washed I bet he wonders whether it is covered in pee. I would never want to be one of those desk people.

Voice in writing:

  • communicates the author’s point of view
  • Exposes the author’s personality or style
  • Communicates the author’s purpose to the audience
  • Comes across as being honest or “from the heart”
  • Shows the author’s wit, sense of humour, spirit
  • Sounds like the author and no one else
  • Has a particular tone such as formal, informal, upbeat, depressing, friendly, hostile, sarcastic, ironic, objective, comedic
  • Has a particular pattern such as sentence length, rhythm, word choice, repetition, structure, favourite words

Voice and its connection to Critical Literacy

1. When we read literature that has a distinct voice, or write using a distinct voice it challenges the way we perceive the world. Critical literacy disrupts common understanding to gain perspective.

2. When we read literature that has a distinct voice, or write using a distinct voice we examine multiple viewpoints. Critical literacy makes us think about different perspectives.

3. When we reflect on an author╒s voice, it helps us evaluate the purpose of writing and consider who is being spoken to and who isn’t

Some examples of Voice:

  • Amused
  • Angry
  • Bitter
  • Condescending
  • Demanding
  • Energetic
  • Excited
  • Frustrated
  • Hesitant
  • Hyperactive
  • Impatient
  • Lethargic
  • Meek
  • Motherly
  • Nervous
  • Ponderous
  • Quizzical
  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Silly
  • Sweet
  • Sweet
  • Sycophantic
  • Tired
  • Whiny
  • Worried

Fun ways to find our voice:

1. Find examples of writing that demonstrate voice. They should be examples where we can hear the author’s unique personality coming out through his/her words. Talk about why these examples are successful.

2. Visit http://masters-of-photography.com/ and view one of the famous photographs depicting people. As a pre-writing activity, ask your students to answer questions like, “What is this person thinking?” or “If this person were to speak, what might he or she say?” or “If this person spoke to you, what would his/her voice sound like?”

3. Try saying the same sentence “You’ve got something in your teeth,” in different voices. What would you sound like if you said the sentence in a bossy voice? How would it sound if your voice was supportive? Now try writing out the sentence so that another person reading the sentence aloud would say it in a bossy or supportive way.

4. Try writing about a subject that you feel strongly about. Use words that describe your feelings.

5. Before you write, say your sentences out loud. Do they sound like you or could they be anyone? What would you have to add to your writing that might make someone recognize it as you and no one else?

6. Write in the style of someone else╒s voice (write like Bart Simpson, Dr. Seuss or a cowboy from an old Western movie)

7. Write about a topic that you find bewildering (example: write like a religious person if you are non-religious)

8. Write to help yourself solve a problem.

9. Write something as if your toughest critic is looking over your shoulder. Write something that would shock that person.

10. Write about something that scares you. If you write about things that make you feel uncomfortable, things that make you sweat, you will find that these topics tend to bring out your inner voice.

11. Write as if you were talking to a particular person or thing (Lady Gaga, a gravestone, a broken umbrella, a red ribbon)