March 2002
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Finding your "Writer's Voice"
(Taken from Newswriting with Laurence Surtees)

Even in the electronic age of instantaneous, mass communication, a writer speaks to one reader. How a student chooses their words, particularly in their narrative, to speak to their audience determines their voice.

A newspaper is filled with fascinating conversations. Your job as a newswriter is to find your voice and keep it consistent throughout your story. Try reading a paragraph from a book or newspaper to yourself right now – and listen to the voice that says the words silently to you. The voice comes from the written words and is the voice of the writer.

The voice of a story begins with your point of view and how you view the subject that you are writing about. Your own background, experiences, knowledge and attitude affect your voice.

A writer's voice is then tuned by language and selecting the right words, then the right phrase, the right sentence and right paragraph. Once you start writing, it is just important to read your own words – and to rewrite and reread.

What's the right word? Mark Twain wrote, "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."