WRITING WITH VOICE
by Lisa Richardson
Editorial Writer, Los Angeles Times
Good writers develop a style and sound that is unique to them. It’s called voice. Developing your voice is key to distinguishing yourself from the zillions of writers flogging grammatically correct but yawn-inducing articles from one publication to another.
The goal is to write with such intimacy and power that when an editor sees a submission from you, he or she gets excited. Even before reading a word editors know you’re going to deliver a piece that speaks to them.
Here are some tips on how to do it.
** 1. Feel when you write. In fact, emote. You have to make yourself laugh (even if it’s just on the inside) to write a humorous piece and cry to write a sad one. Did your eyes water when you were writing up that poignant tale? Did you literally scrunch your face while describing that exotic meal in a Kurdish tent? If you weren’t moved while writing, editors won’t be moved while reading.
** 2. Read your work out loud. Writing is a silent endeavor, but readers hear words in their head as they scan the page. Reading aloud ensures the clarity of your prose and tests the emotional rhythm of your work. It also reminds you to be natural and to use words that are a part of your normal vocabulary. This point segues into tip #3…
** 3. Avoid what I call “acts of literature.” For some perplexing reason, people who are interesting, gracious and funny in conversation often leave those qualities behind when they write. Instead, they feel called upon to adopt a professorial persona and pull out their arsenal of literary allusions, similes and metaphors. But writing doesn’t call for a lofty tone and four-syllable words. Write how you talk.
** 4. Reveal your personality. Do you have a dark sense of humor? A Pollyanna personality? A deeply spiritual bent? Be true to yourself in print and editors will respond enthusiastically; soon they will come to you when they need a writer for articles that call for your style and voice.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]