Hello, my name is Ana. Welcome to my blog! I started this blog to motivate myself to write every day. I embarked on a writing journey to find out all I could about the writing world. There are a lot of techniques and ways to write. However, I enjoy writing because it allows me to share my feelings, experiences, inspirational/motivational things, personal interest stories, as well as writing information, with others. My goal is to write a daily devotional/journal. I am a Christian and have discovered that faith is never losing hope. I welcome your feedback and anything you would like to share. Thank you for visiting.
When you speak or sing, you use your voice. And you do the same when you write. Only here "voice" is much more elusive. Getting your hands around the whole idea of writing voice is a bit like trying to grab a slippery pup. It keeps wiggling and slipping away. Well, I'd like to try to pin that puppy down. What are the elements of voice? How can you find your own? And what mechanical tricks and tools can you use to help?
Let's start by looking at how you reveal yourself as a writer. In other words, I want to talk about point of view. If you'll forgive me, we need to start with a teensy little trip to grammar-land. Let's conjugate the verb "to write."
First person singular: I write First person plural: we write
Second person singular: you write Second person plural: you write
Third person singular: he, she, one -- writes Third person plural: they write
Ok -- that's six different points of view. Which should you choose when you write? Let's take a closer look.
The first person singular is passionate and opinionated. But if you use it too often (think of many blogs) it can seem self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing. No one wants to read text where the message is I-I-I-me-me-me all the time. Still the utter absence of first person can make it sound as though you're reluctant (or maybe even too weak or uninformed) to give your opinion.
The first person plural is sympathetic and warm and helps show the writer as someone who is willing to put him or herself in the readers' shoes. For example, consider the sentence:
"When we write, we're often too quick to criticize our own work."
By expressing the thought this way, the author is saying "hey, you're not alone; I'm one of you!" But be aware that the "we" voice can also come across as patronizing (think of a nurse asking: "And how are we feeling today?")
The second person (both singular and plural) is friendly and inclusive. It makes readers feel as though you are speaking directly to them. In the fourth sentence of this newsletter, I wanted to make the greased pig image come alive, so I used the word "you." On the other hand, "you" can also come across as bossy: "You must sign up by March 30 if you want to receive the pension plan benefits." And if overused it can sound aggressive -- like a salesperson who repeats your name too many times.
The third person is more cool, measured and formal. The overall impact is much more authoritative -- but this comes at the expense of friendliness. Here are some examples: "One can assume that the school board made a serious error." Or: "The typical student receives inadequate instruction in mathematics in grades 9-12." These types of statements are cut and dried and, often, a little bit intimidating.
So the question remains -- how do you know which point of view to use? I recommend you start -- as always -- by considering your audience. A scientific, academic or formal business report probably requires the third person for a good part of the time. But web copy, e-zines, employee publications, memos and e-mail almost always benefit from the informality of the second person ("you").
Remember that you are allowed some flexibility and you don't have to stick slavishly to one point of view for the whole piece of writing. If you are recommending a product or action, for instance, you will want to slip into the first person from time to time -- either singular or plural -- and there's nothing wrong with that. Just be aware that you're doing this and strive to make the transition easy for your readers.
And one final footnote for corporate writers: I urge you to avoid locutions like, "XYZ Company is a 100-year-old firm and we pride ourselves on..." The problem is not so much the mix between the third person ("XYZ Company") and first person ("we") - it's the overall impression that the company cares more about itself than its customers. I'd rewrite focusing on the customer's perspective: "Are you fed up with software that comes with no support? At XYZ Company, we've developed a way to ensure you get the answers you need promptly..." Now that's a voice I want to hear!