How to find the right voice in your writing

Do all your stories sound the same? Match the style to the piece.

Do all your stories sound the same? Match the style to the piece

People who write about writing tend to write a lot about voice.

Remove all that corporate mumbo jumbo and write stories that sound like you made contact with actual humans, we rant.

Easy to say. Harder to do. What exactly does anyone mean by “voice,” anyway?

Here’s one simple definition: Voice describes a consistent style of writing that would lead those who know you to say, “Yeah, that sounded just like you.”

But there’s more to it than that. Voice helps readers avoid confusion; it lends a particular feeling to a story that signals to them what’s coming. Is this a no-nonsense, serious piece that demands we sit up and pay attention? Or do the opening lines let us know we can sit back and enjoy?

Many corporate honchos order their communicators to find one voice that fits all. This is the worst advice anyone could possibly give a writer. Not only is it wrong to communicate in one voice, it’s incredibly boring.

Why would we want the CEO column to sound just like our story about the new vacation policy, or the feature on how a group of employees went down to New Orleans to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina?

Those are completely different stories and they demand distinctive voices. A few examples:

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