Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing Lessons for Students: Part One -- Pre-Writing Episode 6: Your Voice

One thing IB, AS, and IGCSE English examiners, as well as other examiners and teachers throughout the world, are going to mark you on is VOICE.  Your voice must be consistent and appropriate for your writing form.  
Nardvark is working on his voice.

Basically, your writing voice is what readers hear in their heads when reading your work.  Is your voice slow or fast paced?  Intelligent or dopey?  Educated or hick?  Mature or childish?  It may be any combination of anywhere on these and other continuums, but it must be consistent.  In other words, if your essay starts out using an academic voice, it must continue using an academic voice until the very last word.  Don't end an academic essay on the history of bread baking techniques in ancient Egypt with a line like "My favourite kind of bread is banana-raisin-nut loaf!  What's yours?"

Here are two sample paragraphs with the same topic, but one written by Nardvark and the other written by his nerdy alter-ego, the Nerdvark.  You can see the differences in their two voices:

Nerdvark writes:

Nerdvark's paragraph on cats.

Nardvark writes:

Nardvark's paragraph on cats
Obviously, these two paragraphs also have different registers -- Nerdvark's is more formal and impersonal, while Nardvark's is very informal and personal.  But you can also hear the different voices these two writers use and notice that their voices are consistent.