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Voice

The Terror of Voice

I like order. I love the comfort of a beautiful and functional Excel spreadsheet. I organize my CDs by genre and then alphabetically by artist. I eat three meals a day.

But my love of order sometimes butts heads with my love of writing. That’s because no matter how much attention I pay to following the rules of writing, I know that to produce writing that astounds readers—moving them, making them gasp, enticing them—I’ll have to include more than just correct writing.

Why is it important to use the active voice?*

When writers use the active voice, their words are direct; they use concrete verbs and clearly state the action being performed by the subject. In contrast, the passive voice is indirect; writers may use weak “to be” verbs (is, am, was, were, being, been) or present progressives (e. g., is working, is laughing), and the actor in the sentence is absent or disguised.

Identify when the active voice is preferable to the passive voice.

In general, you can make your writing more persuasive, clear, and concise by using the active voice rather than the passive voice. There are instances, however, when the passive voice is preferable to the active voice, as discussed below.

Enhance the likelihood that readers will respond favorably to your document by projecting an effective voice, tone, and persona.Voice, Tone, and Persona are slippery terms/concepts. In some instances, these terms can be used interchangeably, yet important differences do exist.

Voice

The term voice may be used to define a writer's stance toward his subject or readers.

Why should tone and voice be considered?

Writers should consider the audience and purpose of each assignment and be cognizant of the tone and voice they use to communicate with their readers. Sensitivity to the audience’s stance on a particular topic will affect their perception of the writer as the argument unfolds; a respectful tone is more likely to reach the audience than one that is condescending.

Why is it important to conclude a paragraph with the writer’s voice rather than a quote or paraphrase?

Although quotations or paraphrased material from reliable sources are often used to add credibility and to support a writer’s ideas, the focus of the paper should remain on the writer’s voice and his or her own agency as a writer.

Credible evidence should be provided to support the points a writer makes, but source material should not overshadow the writer’s voice.

Why is it important to conclude a paragraph with the writer’s voice rather than a quote?*

Though quotations from reliable sources are often used to add credibility and support to a writer’s ideas, the focus of the paper should remain on the writer’s voice and his or her own agency as a writer. Credentialed evidence should be provided to support the points a writer makes, but not at the expense of diluting the writer’s voice with overdependence on quotations.