This is a guest blog post from Nickolas Baron from Grammarly (a free proofreading tool for writers). It’s his take on the importance of voice and trust me, I agree! Voice is incredibly important, no matter what kind of writing you’re attempting. An interesting narrator will get you everywhere! Read on for tips on writing with Voice.
When you write non-fiction, whether it’s about you or someone else, it’s important to have a strong, focused, and authoritative voice. This is the story that only you can tell well. Many times, fiction is from the perspective of a main character. An invented narrator is commonly used as well, but it’s still a made up perspective that can be altered and changed at the writer’s will. When it comes to non-fiction, the author must dig deep down inside and find the lion that’s willing to tell the story. Non-fiction needs a more robust voice than fiction, in my opinion, because the story is true, interesting, and based in reality. It has facts, dates, and times that readers can identify with in their own historical timeline. Non-fiction’s voice must claim the same space as a fictional character; it must also fit the tone, storyline, and setting. Just because the story’s facts cannot be altered at a flick of the delete button, doesn’t mean the voice of the story needs to waver.
Voice is what drives the story forward. If you don’t have an authoritative yet personable voice, your non-fiction writing will suffer. Readers want to be able to relate to your story, yet feel like you know what you’re talking about. Voice communicates tone, mood, setting, thoughts, feelings, and every other critical aspect of your story. If the voice of the story is weak, lacking punch, and fades in and out, the reader will have a very hard time tuning in to your story until the end. Think of voice as being the lifeblood of your story. Without it, the story’s heart would not beat. Think of your voice in the same light as your story; you’re the only one who can tell it so this is your chance to make it shining and loud. Your voice also has to be easy to read. If you spend your time yelling at the reader and trying to force them to follow in your line of thinking, they will resist and put your story down. If the voice is bossy, seems to be lacking credibility, or unemotional, a reader will sense there are holes. Voice is what sets the stage for the rest of your story. If you let the voice down, the rest of the story will soon follow. Especially with non-fiction, it’s important that the voice is easy to read, has validity, and contains emotions, uniqueness, and interest.
Proofreading can be a great way to edit and clean up the voice in your story. When you go back through your story, you can pick out the pieces of your voice that make it the strongest. Do you excel in emotional writing, or are you better relaying facts? Do you fail when it comes to describing setting and supersede expectations when it comes to describing the look on your mother’s face when your father passed away? Take proofreading as an opportunity to fix these errors and improve your weaknesses. One of the tools I love to use to help me improve my writing is Grammarly. Not only does it have a free proofreading tool, it clears up my grammar and punctuation errors, helps me with any questions I have, and finds errors that Microsoft Word missed. The free proofreading tool helps me with voice by identifying changes in tense and mismatched words. Grammarly’s question-and-answer boards can help with voice as well. The community of writers available to help improve your writing and answer your questions is astounding. Nonfiction writers have the chance to tell a true story that is unique and can only be told by them. Do not let your story suffer by leading it with insufficient voice.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.